Relations between the parties, private donors should not be shrouded in mystery – civil groups – World Today News

  • The ANC has come under fire for its proposals to amend the Political Party Funding Act.
  • The ruling party did this to secure more funding for political parties.
  • Several civil rights groups believe the move will only benefit political parties and not ordinary South Africans.

Civil society groups have accused the ANC of weakening the country’s democracy after the ruling party proposed several changes to key parts of the political party funding law.

The ANC proposals have been described as attempts to make politics more subject to private interests.

Friday’s statement was supported by the Helen Suzman Foundation, Right2Know, My Vote Counts and Defend our Democracy Campaign.

READ | Cash-strapped ANC proposes changes to political party funding law

Speaking on behalf of the groups, MyVote Counts’ Sheilan Clark said recent attempts to reverse these statements have undermined the parties’ stated principles.

She described it as eroding democracy.

“The law aims to improve transparency, accountability and the rights of ordinary people. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest improvements to our democracy since 1996. It has its roots in the Constitutional Court’s 2018 ruling on the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

“The judgment states that ‘information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates is essential for the effective exercise of the right to make political decisions and to participate in elections,'” Clarke added.

The ANC’s National Labor Committee (NWC) wants to increase the amount that an individual or organization can donate to a political party from R15 million a year to R50-100 million.

Alternatively, this limit should be completely abolished, the party argued.

GRAPHICS | The work of the state survey commission in numbers

The NWC also recommended raising the threshold for disclosing donations, currently set at R100,000, to R250,000, or R500,000 per year.

NWC members warned the party to proceed with caution as NGOs oppose any threshold.

Should the ANC be successful with its proposed changes, the amounts would not have to be declared.

Clarke said attempts to change the law would tend to strengthen and expand the influence of private capital on policy.

“A change that will benefit individuals, not the people of South Africa. Both the ANC and DA have said the law has made it difficult to raise funds and maintain financial health. But there is no good reason to keep secret such important relationships between political parties and private capital,” she said.

The law went into effect on April 1 last year, after President Cyril Ramaphosa enacted it in January 2019 and promulgated it in February 2021.

READ | Party Funding: EFF is one of 502 parties that failed to disclose funding sources to IEC

Political parties are to report to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) every quarter more than R100,000 in funds they receive.

Parties can receive R15 million from an individual or entity in a single year.

Clarke said there were several other ways to increase the sustainability of political parties and still preserve and expand democracy.

“The ANC’s attempt to increase annual public allocations to political parties through the IEC is one such proposed solution and could be reviewed.

“The law also provides for a multi-party democracy fund. This fund allows donations from public and private entities that are solely interested in improving our democracy. The IEC then distributes these funds to all parties represented in Parliament,” she added.

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