IEC will ‘spare no effort’ to ensure Party Funding Act in place before 2021 local govt elections

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The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) expects that by the time the 2021 local government elections roll around, legislation will be in place so that South Africans know who funds political parties.

Public hearings into the draft regulations for the Political Party Funding Act (Act 6 of 2018) kicked off on Thursday. 

The IEC also announced the appointment of George Mahlangu as the new chief executive for party funding.

Mahlangu will oversee the management of the Represented Political Parties’ Fund (RPPF), the establishment of a new Multiparty Democracy Fund (MPDF), and the implementation of a disclosure framework through which political parties and donors must disclose donations above a R100 000 threshold.

With the next local government elections to be held in 2021, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini was asked if the Act would be ready by the time South Africans went to the polls.

“My suspicion is that the commission will spare no effort to ensure that this framework is implemented ahead of those elections, because we do need to have some framework by the time we go to local government [elections],” he responded.

‘Phased approach’

Mashinini also welcomed the more than 4 300 written submissions they had received.

“Obviously, there are submissions of a technical nature and also there are submissions which are very weighty and are of a substantial nature,” he said.

“The commission will have to retreat, go consider them in detail and ensure we integrate those that are compatible with the Act into the regulations, and then be able to start the implementation of the Act.”

Asked about timelines for implementation, he said “the commission has been very clear from the word go that they see the implementation of the Act in a phased approach.

“So the three years that is mentioned is what the commission has indicated to Parliament that we will implement in chunks. Certain chapters of the Act in year one, certain other additional chapters in year two, and the balance in year three. 

“I don’t think doing it all at once is going to serve any purpose for the country, because we’re going to trip and that’s not what we want. We want to have a very managed process of implementation to ensure that those chunks of the law we implement are implemented well from the beginning,” said Mashinini.  

Political Party Funding Act

The Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) has laid out the essentials of the Political Party Funding Act.  

The Act provides for and regulates the public and private funding of political parties, in particular: 

  • The establishment and management of Represented Political Parties’ Fund (RPPF) and the Multiparty Democracy Fund (MPDF);
  • 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 repeal the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 1997; 
  • To provide for transitional matters.

“Among the key provisions of the prescript is the requirement on political parties and donors to make separate disclosures of all donations in excess of the declaration threshold of R100 000 per year,” notes the PMG.

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