The Political Party Funding Act is due to be enforced by 1 April 2021, according to Corruption Watch, which has been at the forefront – along with other civil organisations – of the fight for the Act to be implemented.
The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces passed the Bill in June 2018, and President Cyril Ramaphosa assented to the Act in January 2019.
In April 2019, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) postponed the implementation of the Act after receiving more than 5000 submissions on the draft regulations, which were published for public comment on 1 March 2020.
The IEC had previously indicated its intention to implement the Act in a phased approach starting from 1 April 2021.
However, due to responses by stakeholders to the invitation to comment on the regulations, the electoral commission determined that it would be in the interest of all stakeholders to allow further time for consultation and preparation ahead of the operationalising of the first aspects of the Act.
The provisions of the current Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 103 of 1997, remain valid until such time that the new Political Party Funding Act is promulgated.
In a letter addressed to Ramaphosa in December 2020, Corruption Watch urged the president to promulgate a commencement date of the Act before 1 April 2021, to allow for its implementation in the forthcoming local government elections.
If not implemented, Corruption Watch said it would seek an urgent application.
However, according to the organisation, the Presidency confirmed at the end of 2020 that following consultations between the Department of Home Affairs and the IEC, the Act would be proclaimed on or before 1 April 2021.
“The matter of political party funding is important in our democracy, and of significant public interest, as voters have the right to a level of transparency about the groups and individuals backing specific parties and their agendas.
“The fact that our efforts to keep this matter on the agenda have paid off is a big win for civil society, and proves the need to remain vigilant about issues relating to accountability and transparency in our leaders, and the interests that they serve,” said Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch.
Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale, had not responded to The Citizen‘s request for comment at the time of publishing.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde