South African electoral commission seeks public comment on political funding act

South Africa
South Africa

South Africa’s Electoral Commission on Tuesday invited the public to comment on draft regulations for the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA).

This came amid intensified efforts by political parties to seek electoral support in the run-up to the May 8 general elections.

Stakeholders have until March 21 to comment and make submissions on the draft regulations, the commission said.

The PPFA provides for and regulates the public and private funding of political parties, particularly in relation to the establishment and management of the envisaged Represented Political Parties’ Fund (RPPF) and the Multiparty Democracy Fund (MDF).

The act is designed to prohibit certain donations made directly to political parties, regulate disclosure of donations accepted, determine the duties of political parties in respect of funding.

The act is expected to address concerns about over-reliance by political parties on private donations as well as the secrecy that clouds political party financing.

There have been concerns that the secrecy that clouds political party financing could damage democratic processes and lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of certain private funders.

The implementation plan for the act is to phase in the act over a period of three years in line with the availability of funding and capacity in the Electoral Commission.

First to come into effect will be regulations which deal with the establishment of the RPPF and the MDF, direct funding of political parties, disclosure of such funding, and the duties of political parties respectively, according to the commission.

The commission is currently developing an electronic online submission system to facilitate easy and efficient declarations, spokesperson Kate Bapela said.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, political parties in the country have been united in refusing to open their books.

This has been fueling perceptions that anonymous donations from masked sources subvert democratic processes, lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of those private interests and dilute the voice of citizens. Enditem

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