The Constitutional Court in session. Picture: GCIS
The Constitutional Court in session. Picture: GCIS

Political parties and independent candidates will have to keep publicly available records on their private funding in terms of a bill proposed by parliament’s justice and correctional services committee.

The bill will amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act to deal with a Constitutional Court judgment declaring sections of the act constitutionally invalid.

It will supplement the Political Party Funding Act which has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and which promotes transparency of political party funding and regulates the private funding of political parties.

The proposed bill seeks to regulate the recordal, preservation and availability of information in respect of the private funding to political parties and independent candidates. It has the support of the department of justice and constitutional development.

The justice committee has requested the permission of the National Assembly to introduce the bill which takes into account the Constitutional Court’s judgment of June 2018 in the matter brought by My Vote Counts against the minister of justice and constitutional affairs.

The court found the act unconstitutional in that it failed to provide for the recordal, preservation and reasonable disclosure of information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates and gave parliament 18 months to rectify the deficiency.

The committee’s bill will insert a new chapter in the act to address this issue. It will make it an obligation of the accounting officer of a political party (which is defined to include an independent candidate) to create and keep records of any money paid or donated by persons or entities to a political party which is over R100,000.

The accounting officer will also be obliged to keep records of any money lent to or paid on behalf of a political party as well as assets, services or facilities provided to the political party and any sponsorships provided.

The records must be available on social media platforms on a quarterly basis.

The bill also requires that the records be updated and be made available on social media platforms two months before the election of the National Assembly or provincial legislature, municipal elections or a referendum.

The records must be kept for a period of at least five years after having been created.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za