Non-governmental organisation My Vote Counts had asked the Constitutional Court to compel Parliament to pass legislation that would oblige political parties to reveal the sources of their donations, arguing that the constitutional right to access to information demanded this.
“We do not believe that the case was brought in good faith and in the interest of ensuring transparency regarding private funding across the board,” the office of African National Congress chief whip Stone Sizani said.
But Parliament, opposing the application, countered that there was no need for new legislation as the information could be requested in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. My Vote Counts had raised concerns about shortcomings in the law.
The majority judgment held that the organisation should have directly challenged the constitutional validity of the legislation, and that its chosen route of demanding Parliament to pass a new legislation was flawed.
A minority judgment, written by Judge Edwin Cameron, held that the constitutional right to vote and that of access to information requires compulsory disclosure of the sources of private funding to parties.
Cameron, with judges Dikgang Moseneke, Johan Froneman and Achmat Jappie concurring, found that Parliament had therefore failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation and that My Vote Counts had not been compelled to attack PAIA as it did not purport to be the only law to safeguard access to information.
Sizani’s office, in its comment, said that the ANC took the issue of transparency when it comes to private funding seriously, “not only for political parties but for civil society organisations as well”.