ANC calls for inquiry into private financing of political parties

Foreign funding must be regulated to avoid abuse and manipulation by external forces in the political affairs of our country, says Mthembu.

The ANC in parliament has called for a parliamentary inquiry into private financing of political parties.

Briefing the media in parliament on Thursday, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the R150 million split between the parties was simply not enough.

“R150 million is a pittance… for communications [for the ANC] it cost R200 million just on that,” that excluded staff payments, accommodation and travel.”

The ANC caucus would be pushing for an ad hoc committee to declare that all donor funding to all parties be declared.

The amount of R150 million was not enough.

To this end, it would request an ad hoc committee be convened to legislate and regulate that private donations be transparent.

He said public funding of political parties created the represented political parties’ fund, which was administered by the Independent Electoral Commission.

“Since the establishment of the Fund, allocations have barely kept pace with inflation. In the 2017/2018 financial year, public funding for political parties amounts to just under R150m and is proportionally allocated to political parties.

“In addition to this fund, members of legislatures are funded by the respective institutions. Both monies from the fund and the legislatures may only be used for specific activities and must be accounted for,” he said.

The amounts allocated was “negligible”, he added.

Even the ANC party would have to come clean as to where private support money came from.

Mthembu said local funding should be transparent and regulated, however, “foreign funding should be permitted but must be regulated to avoid abuse and manipulation by external forces in the political affairs of our country.”

Asked what the ANC needed, Mthembu said he wasn’t in the position to answer. The ANC treasury was in a better position to respond, he said.

He said the ANC in parliament would table a motion in terms of the National Assembly Rule 256 (1)(b) to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Party Funding.

This would also address concerns raised by civil society on the lack of transparency of party funding.

“Our proposals therefore form part of the ANC’s programme to strengthen democracy, build transparency and accountability and ensure that all political parties achieve financial sustainability in a manner that is transparent, ethical, lawful and predictable,” he said.

Mthembu hoped that if established, it would come to a conclusion by December.

Turning to another highly controversial subject of a secret ballot for a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma – a case still before the Constitutional Court – Mthembu said he wasn’t even having “sleepless nights” about it.

“My first day [as chief whip] there was a vote of no confidence. Rest assured I am a veteran now,” he said giggling.

“As for the vote of no confidence, I think there are more to come.”

It was pointless and that was why the ANC hadn’t entered into the Constitutional Court saga. It was up to the ANC to remove its president.

“I don’t have a problem. Did you see the ANC involved in that court [action]? We have no problem, bring it on.

“We are just waiting for that vote of no confidence to be defeated,” said Mthembu.

If the majority of MPs vote against Zuma when the debate comes around, he will be fired, and so will his Cabinet.

Otherwise the only way to remove Zuma is at the electoral conference at the end of the year.

Mthembu was confident this wouldn’t happen.

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African National Congress (ANC)

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