Political parties may need to disclose private donations

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CAPE TOWN – The National Assembly has approved the Political Party Funding Bill, which proposes to regulate private donations made to political parties and allows them to be represented in Parliament.

The Bill, which was approved on Tuesday afternoon, is now set to go to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.

“Political party funding is one vital aspect of party politics that seeks to protect, promote and support sustainable democracy and ultimately jealously guard the sovereignty of the Republic,” Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC, Dorris Dlakude, said in parliament.

Apart from requiring private donations to be represented in parliament, the bill also outlaws all donations from foreign governments and their agencies, as well as donations from any government department or state-owned entity. It also limits the amount individuals or entities can donate to any political party.

Dlakude said that public allocation should go only to parties that publish comprehensive audited financial statements on an annual basis, covering all transactions.

She also noted the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) disapproval of the Bill, suggesting that their opposition to the Bill was due to foreign funding.

“We equally note the objection and resistance of the hypocritical Democratic Alliance on the proposed Bill, their objection clearly confirms the long-standing public perception that the DA is funded by foreign agencies which are in pursuit of their selfish agenda which undermine the electorate and the effort of the ANC to eradicate inequality and building a non-racial society and prosperous South Africa,” Dlakude said.

In September, the Western Cape High Court ruled that information about private funding of political parties and ward candidates should be declared.

If it becomes law, the Bill will form the foundation for strict control over the private funding of political parties in Parliament and provincial legislatures, which intends to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The Bill states that it is “to provide for, and regulate, the public and private funding of political parties, in particular: the establishment and management of Funds to fund represented political parties sufficiently; to prohibit certain donations made directly to political parties; to regulate disclosure of donations accepted; to determine the duties of political parties in respect of funding; to provide for powers and duties of the Commission; to provide for administrative fines; to create offences and penalties; to repeal the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 1997 and provide for transitional matters; and to provide for related matters.”

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