The coming into operation of the Political Party Funding Act (6 of 2018) from 1 April this year introduces a new era of transparency within South Africa’s electoral democracy,
So says the Electoral Commission’s Chief Executive for Party Funding Mr George Mahlangu.
“The implementation of the new Act is an important new milestone in the on-going evolution of our democracy. For the first time since the birth of our democracy political parties must disclose their sources of private funding publicly, shining a light on this previously unseen aspect of our democracy,” he said.
The Act requires all political parties to disclose donations above R100 000 to the Electoral Commission which must then make these public. The Act also sets restrictions on sources of funding for political parties including outlawing donations by government departments, state-owned entities, foreign governments and agencies.and proceeds from crime
In preparation for the implementation, Mr Mahlangu said the Electoral Commission had been working closely with political parties over the past few months to prepare them to meet their new obligations.
“To assist parties and their donors to make declarations easily and efficiently, the Electoral Commission developed an online reporting system which is available free to all parties and donors. We have been testing this with parties over the past few months and the system is now live.”
As part of the system of checks and balances to help ensure transparency, private donors who make direct donations above R100 000 to political parties must also declare these to the Electoral Commission on the new system within 30 days.
A further exciting new element of the Act is the introduction of a new Multi-Party Democracy Fund administered by the Electoral Commission.
“This new fund provides an opportunity for businesses, trusts and other institutions – along with ordinary South African citizens – to support our country’s multi-party democracy by making donations to the fund
“Political parties need resources in order for our electoral democracy system to work effectively. Democracy is expensive – but the alternative is even more costly to our country and all of us,” said Mr Mahlangu.
Donations made to the MPDF will be distributed to all political parties represented within the national and provincial legislatures according to a set formula.
“It allows corporate and private citizens, these include foreign natural and juristic persons, to support our democracy without having to pick a specific party to support or without having to engage directly with political parties. The fund also allows donors to make donations anonymously should they prefer.”
Further details of the Political Party Funding Act can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website at www.elections.org.za/pw/party-funding