MPs may probe party funding
Perception exists that anonymous donations from business subvert democratic processes to garner contracts
The ANC says it will soon seek to table a motion in Parliament to establish an ad hoc committee on party funding.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday, the committee would inquire into and make recommendations on funding of political parties, with a view to introducing or amending legislation if necessary and consider a model for adequate public funding for political parties. It would also look at the regulation of funding of parties by private institutions.
Private political party funding has been a thorny issue in recent years, with civil society groups calling for the regulation of private financing of parties in line with AU, UN and other anticorruption codes the country has signed. The groups, including My Vote Counts, have in the past launched unsuccessful court bids to compel Parliament to enact legislation that will make it compulsory for parties to disclose private donors.
The now-defunct Institute for Democracy in SA was the first group to launch a court application on the matter, but in 2005, the High Court in Cape Town dismissed its application.
Mthembu said political parties’ reliance on private funding fuelled the perception that anonymous donations from business interests are a means to subvert democratic processes by influencing the awarding of contracts or "framing of policy in a manner that advantages private interests, dilutes the voice of citizens and undermines the Constitution".
South African parties represented in Parliament and in the provincial legislatures receive funding from taxpayers in line with the proportion of votes they receive in elections.
The funding is regulated by the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act.
The chief electoral officer administers the fund with the Electoral Commission of SA as the overseeing body.
However, this money is regarded as inadequate and in most instances, is seen as consolidating the dominance of the ANC.
Mthembu said allocations from the fund had barely kept pace with inflation.
In the 2017-18 financial year, public funding for political parties amounts to almost R150m and is proportionally allocated to political parties.