Picture: 123RF/LEON SWART
Picture: 123RF/LEON SWART

A draft bill that will amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act to provide for the access to information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates, is under discussion in parliament.

The draft bill has been drawn up by parliament’s legal advisers on behalf of the justice and correctional services portfolio committee. It was made necessary by a judgment by the Constitutional Court in June 2018, which found the act unconstitutional insofar as it failed to provide for the recording, preservation and reasonable disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The court gave parliament 18 months — which expires in December — to amend the act. The case was brought by nonprofit organisation My Vote Counts.

This process is happening as the ANC is looking to put in place policies to regulate campaigns and funding for internal party election campaigns. This was after the public protector found that President Cyril Ramaphosa had violated the executive code of ethics and recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) investigate a case of possible money-laundering in relation to the expenditure of the campaign funds used for his ANC presidential election campaign.

This was in relation to the R500,000 donation he received from Gavin Watson, the now deceased CEO of Bosasa (renamed Africa Global Operations). Ramaphosa is challenging those findings. 

Parliamentary legal adviser Noluthando Mpikashe briefed committee members on Wednesday on the proposed amendment bill, which will introduce a new chapter into the act dealing with the publication and availability of certain records of political parties.

In terms of the draft bill, the accounting officer of a political party or independent candidate must create and keep records of the identity of, and the amounts of money paid by, all persons or entities who donate more than R100,000 in one financial year.

The R100,000 threshold was taken from the Political Party Funding Act. Regulations for this act are being drawn up by the Electoral Commission of SA and the proposed draft bill will be aligned with both the act and regulations.

Records must also be kept of any money lent to a political party (the definition of which includes independent candidates) and of expenses paid by the political party, assets held and sponsorships excluding services rendered voluntarily.

The accounting officer must make the records available on a quarterly basis on the social media platforms of the party and must also do this at least two months prior to a national, provincial or municipal election or a referendum. Records must be kept for a period of at least five years.

The committee will invite public comments on the draft bill.



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