In a letter addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa in early December 2020, Corruption Watch raised concerns that there were potentially interests opposed to the Political Party Funding Act, 6 of 2018, and working to ensure that it would not be implemented. If true, the organisation deems such intentions unlawful and unconstitutional, and it is not alone in these concerns.
The letter urged the president to promulgate a commencement date of the Act before 1 April 2021, to allow for its implementation in the forthcoming local government elections, failing which an urgent application would be sought.
Corruption Watch welcomes the response from the Presidency at the end of 2020, confirming that, following consultations between the Department of Home Affairs and the Independent Electoral Commission, the Act will be proclaimed on or before 1 April 2021.
“The matter of political party funding is important in our democracy, and of significant public interest, as voters have the right to a level of transparency about the groups and individuals backing specific parties and their agendas,” says Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch.
The organisation, along with many others in civil society, notably My Vote Counts, has for several years advocated for greater transparency in political party funding. In addition to advocacy, the organisation has also made written and oral submissions on the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 103 of 1997 read in accordance with Regulation 10(1) of the Act in 2017, and written and oral submissions on the Draft Political Party Funding Bill in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces passed the Bill in June 2018, and the president assented to the Act in January 2019. Following these steps, and the Electoral Commission’s finalisation of its regulations to give effect to the Act in July 2019, the expectation was that the date for the commencement of the Political Party Funding Act would be proclaimed at least a year ago.
“The fact that our efforts to keep this matter on the agenda have paid off is a big win for civil society, and proves the need to remain vigilant about issues relating to accountability and transparency in our leaders, and the interests that they serve,” Singh adds.
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Phemelo Khaas email@example.com 083 763 3472