The National Assembly approved the political party funding bill yesterday, which now has to be passed by the National Council of Provinces before it becomes law.
The bill will see private donations to political parties represented in the National Assembly made public.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were the only party that opposed the bill, stating it mainly objected to Section 10 of the proposed law.
The EFF has rejected the Party Political Funding Bill due to its Section 10 which says;
“no person or entity may deliver a donation to a member of a political party other than for party political purposes” pic.twitter.com/EnPpoog0lt
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) March 27, 2018
EFF treasurer-general Leigh-Ann Mathys told eNCA this morning that the party objected to the bill for three reasons.
“Firstly it was the issue of transparency, and our founding manifesto is absolutely clear that we are saying that political parties must be legally obliged to disclose who it is that is funding them.
“The second one was the issue of two-thirds, one-third on how political party funding is allocated and distributed. The constitution allows the Treasury to provide funding to political parties for constituency work, and it’s very clear that that funding must be provided proportionally, so according to the number of seats you received both in the legislature and the National Assembly,” she said.
She further said the constitutional provision was to ensure that multiparty democracy is strengthened.
“And there’s nothing strengthening when you calculate it that you have 90% distributed proportionally, which is what it was before this bill was passed,” Mathys said.
She said the ruling party had tabled the bill at the National Assembly after being threatened with court action on that party funding provision in the constitution.
“And it could have been ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court that they were taking money unconstitutionally under that section because they were saying 90% of this must be distributed proportionally when the constitution actually says that funding must strengthen multi-party democracy and that it must be divided or calculated both equitably and proportionally,” Mathys said.
Though the EFF agrees with the rationale of Section 10 of the party funding bill, Mathys said her organisation took issue with its wording.
“If the wording is not changed it can be interpreted that me I cannot be a political party, belong to a political party and receive a donation,” she said.
Mathys said an addition must be made after the word donation in Section 10 of the bill.
“What it should read is that no personal entity may deliver a donation made to a political party to a member of that political party,” she said.
The EFF treasurer-general said if the wording is not changed in the section the party is concerned with, this could infringe on an individual’s right to associate with a political party of their choice.
“Now as a member of a political party I can’t receive a donation, so if someone wants to give me school fees to pay for my child’s school fees I can’t receive that because I am a member of a political party,” she said.
She added that this means ordinary political party members, for example, at branch level would be affected and could not accept donations in kind for personal reasons.
The bill forbids and outlaws donations from foreign governments and their agencies, as well as donations from any government department or state-owned entity.
It also limits the amount individuals or entities can donate to any political party.
It is supposed to ensure greater transparency and accountability.
The African National Congress has hailed the bill as “historic”, the first serious attempt in 24 years to regulate party financing, and it was supported by most parties.