The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is ready to implement the Political Party Funding Act when it comes into effect on 1 April.
The 2018 legislation regulates the public and private funding of political parties. And it was signed in law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in January 2019.
On Friday, the IEC’s deputy chairperson Janet Love said at a media briefing that voters would know for the first time in South Africa’s democratic history the donors of political parties ahead of this year’s local government elections.
The elections are slated to take place later this year between August and November.
The Act’s regulations, which were drafted over the past two years in consultation with political parties, civil society and other stakeholders, have been published in the Government Gazette.
“Political parties will be required to disclose all donations received between April and June this year ahead of the elections,” Love said.
The Act establishes the mechanism on funds to be provided to political parties represented in Parliament and legislatures to undertake their work. It requires that donations should be disclosed by parties and donors to the IEC.
It also seeks to ensure that all represented political parties receive sufficient funds for their work through the establishment of the Represented Political Party Fund, which provides public funding to parties, and the Multi-Party Democracy Fund, which funds parties from private sources.
Love said the implementation of the Act was significant in changing the electoral and political landscape of the country towards more accountability and transparency in the electoral process. She said, however, there were a few issues that needed to be ironed out in the second phase of implementation regarding its enforcement.
Love said IEC would also embark on a campaign to educate and ensure parties meet their obligations from the implementation date.
Meanwhile, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini hailed the Act saying it was progressive and marked a major milestone in the evolution of the country’s democracy. He said it would help to strengthen key constitutional principles of accountability and fairness in the running of elections.
However, Mashinini cautioned that the Act was not a panacea to eradicating corruption associated with the funding of parties.
“The Act is not a panacea to all dangers and risks associated with funding of political parties, but it is a strong and positive start to address challenges which have emerged in past 25 years of our democracy,” Mashinini said.
Mashinini said the second phase of the implementation of the Act would deal with its enforcement.
“April 2021 will see the first phase of the Political Party Funding Act implementation. Current fiscal constraints mean IEC is not yet capacitated to undertake the full ambit of responsibilities under the Act. It will take time and resources to build skilled enforcement capacity,” he said.
He said the IEC held widespread engagements with Parliament, civil society and the public to design an effective and efficient regulatory framework.
“And engagements will continue,” Mashinini said.