Party funding disclosure moves a step further
The ANC’s call for increased financial support for political parties in Parliament has received support from a wide range of organisations that emphasised strict regulation to promote transparency and accountability.
The majority of the 17 submissions received by Parliament’s ad hoc committee on political party funding have called for a ban on foreign funding. While they support the continuation of private funding, they propose transparency from both political parties and donors.
In a push for more money from the public purse, the ANC announced in May that it would support disclosure on private political party funding.
The move came 12 years after the party, through its then secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe, argued that the matter of disclosure of private donations to political parties was not for the courts to resolve, but that the ANC accepted the need for regulation and transparency and would bring proposals to Parliament.
The Institute for Democracy in SA had taken the ANC and other political parties represented in Parliament to the Cape Town High Court, requesting that the court compel them to disclose details of private donations made to the parties. The court dismissed the case.
The ANC also proposed that a new regulatory model for party funding be established and founded on the principles of full financial transparency of political parties and the effective regulation of private financing. Smaller parties had previously complained about the funding model, or at least its application, saying it mainly benefited the ANC. They want a 50-50 allocation of both proportionality and equity.
The oral submissions in Parliament from August 15 to 18 will be a test of how far the ANC will go in terms of its proposed transparency. The party is one of the 17 organisations that will make an oral submission to the ad hoc committee and face probing questions about the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House.
While a wide range of submissions are in line with the ANC’s written proposals, they go further and call for a ban of foreign donations or, at the very least, a cap on foreign funding.
Corruption Watch also proposed a ban on donations from companies that do business with the state. These would include enterprises that are fully or partially owned by the state and funding from investors and other corporate vehicles owned by political parties, as well as funding from trade unions and other private entities, it said in its proposal.
Cosatu called for the current funding model to be retained with an additional measure to ensure parties account for public funds received in line with the Public Finance Management Act.
Parties that do not account fully for monies received should not be allowed to receive further funds until the existing funds have been accounted for in full.
It advocated full disclosure to Parliament, provincial legislatures and the Electoral Commission of SA and for “private companies to be required by the act to disclose donations in their annual reports”.