One year after signing Party Funding Law, and no disclosure date in sight
21 January 2020
Civil society organisations have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA), to demand that he exercises his duty and to promptly gazette a date for promulgation of the PPFA.
Today, marks the one-year anniversary since the PPFA of 2018 was signed. However, without an implementation date, the signing of the Act has no value.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Corruption and Fraud (the Commission) has heard daily cases of how self-interested persons received or allocated kickbacks at the expense of clean and good governance. During the Commission’s earlier tenure, experts and/or policy advisers before the Commission echoed civil society’s stance on how political party funding transparency is one of the pillars towards tackling and deterring corruption. However, the Commission is playing a critical role in uncovering corruption, sustainable solutions are necessary and simple. This letter is therefore a demand that the President pull the plug on secrecy and lead South Africans towards an open society where democracy is ‘for the people’ and ‘by the people.’ Without protecting and ensuring the right to access information, our political system protects those who seek to buy favour and undue influence on politicians.
From the VBS Bank Scandal, controversial exposures of politicians or political parties receiving gifts from criminal businessmen, the current Eskom crisis, the collapse of South African Airways corporate-political collusion and other cases of corruption and poor governance, all are spillover effects of poor, ineffective or non-existent accountability and transparency mechanisms.
As the 2018 Constitutional Court order confirmed on the matter between MVC NPC vs. the Minister of Justice & Others, that the right to vote cannot be exercised effectively without the right to access information on the private funding of political parties. Currently, South Africans are again at threat of going to the 2021 election polls without political party private funding disclosures. Further, the 18-month deadline for the Constitutional Court matter has passed, the IEC has appointed a CEO to manage private funding disclosures and have been given the necessary time to implement the PPFA, but the President’s failure to promulgate the PPFA is the only barrier towards South Africans being able to exercise the right to make an informed vote.
Further, the danger of the gaps in our existing implemented legislative framework abets unchecked corruption and means that the country has very little to celebrate. The ramifications of such corruption are inhumane and harshly felt by the poorest, who are cast out of meaningfully participating in our democracy. South Africans cannot rely on promises made at political party congresses, celebrations, and in election manifestos. South Africans need access to information that upholds the right for South Africans to be dignified voters who can make informed votes and we need it now. We thus emphasise our demand that the President exercises his duty to operationalise the PPFA without further procrastination.
Issued by Sheilan Clarke on behalf of My Vote Counts, 21 January 2020