IEC seeks extra R45m to implement bill
THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it will need R45 million to implement the draft Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Amendment Bill once it is enacted.
The electoral body also warned that it would not accept the new mandate if it received no additional funding.
This emerged when the IEC yesterday appeared before Parliament’s ad hoc committee on party funding.
The draft bill provides for regulation of public funding for parties represented in legislatures and donations from private donors.
It provides for parties to disclose their source of funding to the IEC and submit audited statements on specified intervals.
The bill also provides for banning of foreign funding but it allows funding for skills and development training.
Briefing the ad hoc committee, IEC chairman Glen Mashinini said they had made an educated guess on the cost implication of the new legislation.
“We cannot as the commission take on any new additional mandate without the commensurate funding,” Mashinini said
Chief electoral officer Simon Mamabolo told of plans to establish a business unit that would be assigned its own accounting officer to focus on party funding matters.
This was to ensure the new mandate did not impact on their capacity in electoral operations.
Mamabolo also said they did not know the extent of the work in the first year when the legislation was implemented.
However, he put the estimated overall cost for the first year at R45m with R11m to be spent on employees costs and a further R33m on operational costs.
Mamabolo said their resources were already overstretched.
“The commission will be unable to accept additional mandates if not accompanied by necessary funds,” he said.
Parliamentarians asked questions about the required amount, which equals a quarter of the public funding for parties.
Mashinini said their presentation was to provide their considered view, but they would abide by what the lawmakers determined.
“What we bring to your attention is we need to envisage possible loopholes that may defeat the end we wish to achieve,” he said.
The IFP’s Narend Singh said there was a need for additional funding to enable the IEC to perform its functions. “We don’t want to give unnecessary burden without funding,” Singh said.
The EFF’s Leigh-Ann Mathys said the budget should cover the statutory obligations based on the disclosures. “We want you to be properly capacitated,” she said.
Mashini said the parliamentarians were free to ask an independent body to conduct an assessment on the cost implications. “We don’t want to take a mandate and along the way be saddled with an unintended situation.”
Mamabolo also told the committee that the draft bill made disclosures for party funding applicable only to political parties and no requirement provided for those making donations.
The bill lacked criminal sanctions for transgressors. “A regulatory framework bearing no criminal sanctions is weak and people will wilfully transgress it,” he said.
There should be “dual disclosure” where both donors and parties should be obliged to make disclosures.
The DA’s James Selfe said the “dual disclosure” could be a burden in administrative work on ordinary donors while the ANC’s Donald Gumede said it should be for agreed thresholds.
Committee chairman Vincent Smith said: “The dual disclosures is a principle we must embrace.”
The committee meets next week to fine tune the draft bill before making presentation to Parliament..
IEC chief Glen Mashinini