Call for party fund­ing bill to be signed

• Madon­sela urges pres­i­dent to act in time for a trans­par­ent elec­tion

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Karyn Maughan

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela has urged Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the Po­lit­i­cal Party Fund­ing Bill into law as a “ma­jor pri­or­ity” so that vot­ers can know where par­ties get their money.

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela has urged Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the Po­lit­i­cal Party Fund­ing Bill into law as a “ma­jor pri­or­ity” so vot­ers can know where par­ties get their money be­fore the cru­cial 2019 gen­eral elec­tion.

“Es­pe­cially in the run-up to the elec­tions, we need to know who is giv­ing money to who. For me it’s all about cap­ture, it’s about who is giv­ing money to who,” Madon­sela told Busi­ness Day on Wed­nes­day.

“If gov­ern­ment is sud­denly pan­der­ing to the in­ter­ests of those that have paid large sums of money then as cit­i­zens, we need to start know­ing about it.”

Madon­sela says the bill, sit­ting on Ramaphosa’s desk since it was passed by par­lia­ment in March, is “ex­tremely im­por­tant” in en­sur­ing the rights of vot­ers and en­abling greater ac­count­abil­ity and in­tegrity among po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to voter rights or­gan­i­sa­tion My Vote Counts, Ramaphosa has to sign off on the bill be­fore the end of Novem­ber for it to come into ef­fect be­fore the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion.

Madon­sela said the oil­gate scan­dal, when PetroSA paid Imvume Man­age­ment an R18m ad­vance in early 2004 to buy feed­stock con­den­sate for the paras­tatal and Imvume then do­nated R11m of the money to the ANC, demon­strated how po­lit­i­cal party fund­ing could be linked to ten­der deals.

This same pathol­ogy had al­legedly played it­self out in other fi­nan­cial scan­dals in­volv­ing the Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of SA and VBS bank.

“The link be­tween ten­ders and party fund­ing is of im­por­tance,” Madon­sela said. “There has been anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that sug­gested that, start­ing from Imvume’s fund­ing in oil­gate, com­pa­nies would get money from gov­ern­ment, in­flate the ten­der so that the state is charged ex­or­bi­tant amounts and then pay back the party and some of the peo­ple in­volved.

“With oil­gate we know for a fact that it was done, and then with VBS there are al­le­ga­tions that some par­ties may have re­ceived fund­ing but that is an al­le­ga­tion that still needs to be tested. In Prasa, there are also al­le­ga­tions that some of the money may have gone to po­lit­i­cal par­ties.”

The pres­i­dency has de­nied that Ramaphosa is stalling the sign­ing of the bill into law. Ramaphosa has said he wants the bill to be prop­erly legally and con­sti­tu­tion­ally scru­ti­nised be­fore it is en­acted.

His spokesper­son Khusela Diko did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on progress in this process.

She pre­vi­ously said that Ramaphosa re­garded the bill’s im­ple­men­ta­tion as “ur­gent” and said the pres­i­dent’s le­gal coun­sel was “work­ing to en­sure that within the pos­si­ble time frames” the bill was com­pleted.

In the in­terim, My Vote Counts and the Right2Know cam­paign have writ­ten to all 13 po­lit­i­cal par­ties in par­lia­ment ask­ing them to dis­close sources of their donor fund­ing.

“Only three par­ties re­sponded, with all stat­ing that be­cause of the ab­sence of leg­is­la­tion, they can­not pro­vide us with their pri­vate fund­ing in­for­ma­tion. The three par­ties that re­sponded were DA, IFP and COPE,” Sheilan Clarke, from My Vote Counts, told Busi­ness Day on Wed­nes­day.

Clarke said these re­sponses were “not en­tirely fair”, given that the Con­sti­tu­tional Court had ruled in June “that cit­i­zens can re­quest this cru­cial in­for­ma­tion from par­ties”.

In that judg­ment, SA’s high­est court de­clared that in­for­ma­tion on pri­vate fund­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates had to be recorded, pre­served and made rea­son­ably ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic.

Mur­ray Hunter of Right2Know urged Ramaphosa to end the “se­cret” fund­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“Cit­i­zens have, rightly, de­manded an end to se­cret money in our democ­racy. The vot­ers’ right to know has been con­firmed by the courts and now by par­lia­ment.”

/Syd­ney Seshibedi/ Sun­day Times

Join­ing the dots: Thuli Madon­sela, the for­mer pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor, points to PetroSAs oil­gate and the VBS scan­dal, say­ing the link be­tween ten­ders and party fund­ing is of im­por­tance.

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