Par­ties push for fund­ing bill sign­ing

Saturday Star - - NATION - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI AND MARY JANE MPHAHLELE

PAR­TIES con­tin­ued to mount pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa yes­ter­day to sign into law the Po­lit­i­cal Party Fund­ing Bill to al­low for the equal dis­tri­bu­tion of funds and dis­close who funds par­ties.

This comes after Par­lia­ment passed the Elec­toral Laws Bill this week to pre­vent the use of pub­lic funds in po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

The ANC has been ac­cused by op­po­si­tion par­ties of us­ing pub­lic funds in cam­paigns.

The bill was passed by Par­lia­ment last year and the pres­i­dent has not yet as­sented to it.

Spokesper­son for Ramaphosa, Khusela Diko, said they had in­di­cated that the pres­i­dent was con­sult­ing with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers be­fore sign­ing the bill into law.

Among the par­ties Ramaphosa was con­sult­ing was the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) on their state of readi­ness.

The IEC did not re­spond to ques­tions sent to it.

Cope and the African Christian Demo­cratic Party (ACDP) said it was time Ramaphosa signed the bill into law as the elec­tions were around the cor­ner.

Cope spokesper­son Den­nis Bloem said they wanted the pres­i­dent to sign the bill ur­gently.

“We want this bill to be signed as in yes­ter­day. We want to know who is fund­ing the cam­paigns of each and ev­ery party. By not sign­ing the bill, it ham­pers smaller par­ties in their cam­paign. We are de­pend­ing on more funds (from the Mul­ti­party Democ­racy Fund run by the IEC),” said Bloem.

Steve Swart of the ACDP re­it­er­ated calls for Ramaphosa to sign the bill.

“We re­gret that it’s not been signed be­cause it will re­sult in a more eq­ui­table fund­ing of par­ties,” said Swart.

Mean­while, other po­lit­i­cal par­ties have ap­plauded Par­lia­ment on the ini­tia­tive to see to it that the bill ex­ists.

IFP MP Mn­to­muhle Khawula said they were happy with the bill, but that there was still room for im­prove­ment.

“We agree with the bill in its en­tirety, but we felt that we still have to im­prove some as­pects of it. We can­not achieve ev­ery­thing all at once.

“We have been ap­peal­ing to the IEC that as long as it does not mon­i­tor the use of govern­ment funds for elec­tion­eer­ing, then the elec­tions re­main un­fair and not free. It gives un­fair ad­van­tage to those who are in power,” said Khawula.

Though the DA said it was sat­is­fied with the bill, the party pro­posed an amend­ment to pro­vide in­creased pow­ers for the IEC to in­crease the num­ber of suit­able vot­ing venues abroad.

Na­tional Coun­cil of Provinces (NCOP) chair­per­son Thandi Modise ruled that the pro­posed amend­ments fell out­side the scope of the bill and were there­fore con­sti­tu­tion­ally and pro­ce­du­rally out of or­der.

DA MP Cath­leen Labuschagne said: “The bill, as was passed by the NCOP, re­quires South Africans to vote at an em­bassy, high com­mis­sion or con­sulate. This places an un­due bur­den on South Africans liv­ing away from cap­i­tal and po­lit­i­cal cities, who will now need to travel to such in or­der to vote.

“The NCOP has now ir­reg­u­larly passed this bill, plac­ing an un­due bur­den on hun­dreds of thou­sands of South Africans liv­ing abroad who wish to ex­er­cise their con­sti­tu­tional right to vote,” said Labuschagne.

Par­lia­men­tary spokesper­son Moloto Mothapo said the bill was aimed at main­tain­ing po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity by pro­tect­ing the le­git­i­macy of elected leg­isla­tive bod­ies from which na­tional and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments de­rived the au­thor­ity to con­sti­tute them­selves.

WORK­ERS clean the area around stat­ues of ANC lead­ers that have been erected along the M4 Ruth First high­way in Dur­ban, as part of the ANC’S elec­tion man­i­festo launch at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in the city. | EPA-EFE African News Agency (ANA)

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