Electoral Matters Amendment Bill back in the spotlight

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 8, 2024


THE ELECTORAL Matters Amendment Bill has been thrust back into the spotlight after civil society and political parties have questioned its existence.

The proposed bill includes the amendments of clauses of the Political Parties Funding Act pertaining to the sitting president getting absolute power of swaying power over political parties’ funding.

The bill also aims to afford the resident greater power to determine the formulas and regulations for the funding of political parties according to Freedom Plus leader, Dr Pieter Groenewald.

He says that Ramaphosa and the ruling ANC should not be trusted with making unilateral decisions about political parties' funding.

“He (Ramaphosa) will be able to make unilateral decisions to determine, for instance, the ratio for the proportional and equal allocation of funds, and the minimum and maximum donations parties may receive.

“The president has already demonstrated several times that he is biassed in favour of the ANC.

“The Presidential Handbook serves as an example of how he takes undue advantage of flights at taxpayers' expense, so, he will undoubtedly abuse his powers to benefit the…an election campaign cannot be run without funds and this amounts to directly undermining democracy,” wrote Groenewald in a statement.

According to reports, organs of civil society have refuted against the bill that has been “imposed on”.

Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer, Mawethu Mosery reportedly said the draft law was necessary to govern party funding-related matters.

The proposed measures include Ramaphosa “to consider objectively measurable norms and standards, with regard to the public funding of political parties in other peer democratic jurisdictions – ensuring that South Africa “does not become an outlier”.

International Statistics Institute CEO Daryl Swanepoel mirrored Mawethu’s assertions.

“Political parties need to be properly resourced and equipped to carry out their constitutional mandate.

“Ill-equipped and under-resourced political office-bearers will result in the semblance of democracy, while allowing for a well-resourced executive to act with impunity – inherently biased in favour of parties in government,” he reportedly said.

Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questioned how the bill could be passed.

“A sure albeit unintended recipe for corruption under the cover for the facilitation of a well-structured mechanism or legal stratagem having the inescapable effect of evading accountability.”

“Ramaphosa therefore had the duty to know, if he did not already know who was funding his campaign and to disclose that personal benefit compositely as a benefit from the CR17 campaign as an entity or more appropriately from each donor with a specified amount. Why? So that Parliament and the public could know who was helping or had helped him to perform better than his competitors and enabled him to become African National Congress president and a few months later, President of the Republic.”

The presidency could not be reached at the time of going to print.