ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. Picture: ANNA MAJAVU/SOWETAN
ANC parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. Picture: ANNA MAJAVU/SOWETAN

A bill that seeks to ban political parties from using public funds for election campaigns is a step closer to becoming law after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) adopted the proposed legislation at a special sitting on Thursday.

Opposition political parties have, over the years, accused the governing ANC of abusing state resources and tax funds to drive its election campaigns, saying this gives the party an unfair advantage.

SA is preparing for crucial national polls that are expected to take place sometime in May, and the opposition has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the bill into law before then.

If the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill is enacted by Ramaphosa, it will make the use of public funds for political campaigning illegal, except those allocated to a party in terms of the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act. Parties represented in parliament and in the provincial legislatures receive funding from the fiscus in line with the proportion of votes they receive in elections. The funding is regulated by this act.

The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill also seeks to make it possible for voters whose addresses have not yet been captured on the voters’ roll to cast a ballot. The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC)  has been working hard to update the voters roll; however, there are still names with no addresses.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the bill seeks, through a wide range of measures, to prevent possibilities of election results and the constitution of legislative bodies being challenged in court by any party or interested person on the basis of the absence of addresses on the common voters roll, and ensures that voters whose addresses aren’t yet on the roll will still be able to cast their ballot.

He said the bill is aimed at maintaining political stability by protecting the legitimacy of elected legislative bodies from which national and provincial governments derive the authority to constitute themselves.

The IFP was pleased with the adoption of the bill, particularly the proposed ban on the use of public funds for elections campaigns.

“The IFP has, for a long-time, raised concerns on this issue with the IEC,” said Mntomuhle Khawula, IFP member of the NCOP.

“The IFP welcomes this move by the IEC and parliament to curb the unfair use of public funds to the advantage of the ruling party. As we speak, the ANC will be launching its 2019 manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban this Saturday.  Scores of ANC ministers, deputy ministers, MECs, mayors, deputy mayors and speakers will be booked at hotels in and around Durban on government funds for this function. They will be chauffeur-driven to this function in government vehicles,”  said Khawula.

“This is unfair utilisation of public funds for party political gain and mobilisation. We hope that this will come to an end when the president signs this bill into law.”

The NCOP also adopted the Public Service Commission Amendment Bill and the much debated Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, which makes provision for recognition of the Khoi-San.

Said ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs, “We are overjoyed at being recognised as indigenous people and are grateful to the ANC. It’s a good day to be Khoi-San. Yet, amid the joy we remember the pain, suffering and genocide of our people. But today is a time to celebrate.”