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By Zanele Mbengo

Digital Journalist

Party funding changes are a concern – analysts and parties

Controversial Electoral Matters Amendment Bill sparks concern as analysts fear funding changes favor big parties unfairly.

Changes to the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill affecting funding are worrying analysts and political parties.

Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary at the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said the main concern was that it would change the funding formula.

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Naidoo said the change in the formula benefitted big parties at the expense of small ones and independent candidates.

“The formula in the Party Funding Act, which split the funding with two-thirds of it proportionally and one third of it equitably, was a much fairer distribution model,” he said.

The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill.

The Amendment Bill was adopted by the ANC and supported by the Economic Freedom Fighters and the National Freedom Party. But opposition parties threatened to challenge it in court as it “favours the ANC in terms of political party funding”.

The Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party, United Democratic Movement, Good and the Pan Africanist Congress rejected it while 240 MPs voted for it and 90 against.

Independent elections analyst Michael Atkins said smaller parties might not have enough resources for campaigns which might cause loss of seats in parliament.

ALSO READ: ‘R100K five years ago not same amount today: Motsoaledi proposes changes to party funding act

“It’s not merely allocating extra money to the ANC. It is reducing the campaigning capability of 11 parties in parliament which are opponents of the ANC.”

Acting executive director at Rivonia Circle and political analyst Lukhona Mnguni said: “The change in the formula will deprive smaller parties in parliament of resources. It’s effectively squeezing oxygen out of small parties and that is a problem.”

The Congress of SA Trade Unions welcomed the Bill but added: “The provisions for thresholds below which donations need not be disclosed is a gap for tenderpreneurs and persons with criminal intent to buy influence. This is dangerous.”

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