The worrying surge of killing of women and children in South Africa and public funding and regulation of political party finances
18 May 2017
1. THE WORRYING SURGE OF KILLING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN SOUTH AFRICA
The African National Congress in Parliament is pained by the surge of killing of women and children in South Africa.
Statistics show that a woman is killed every eight hours in South Africa. More than 1 000 women are killed by an intimate partner each year. Intimate partner femicide, which is the most serious form of domestic violence, is the leading cause of the murder of women.
A 2009 Medical Research Council study showed the vast majority of female homicides went unpunished, with less than 38 percent of intimate-partner femicides leading to conviction in less than two years.
We reiterate our call that the barbaric brutal killing of women and children and all forms of gender based violence must be treated as high priority crimes and all perpetrators of such atrocities must be denied bail and a maximum sentence must be imposed if found guilty.
We also call on all men to stand up against gender based violence as their silence can only be understood as being in complicit in the murders of our mothers, sisters and daughters.
2. PUBLIC FUNDING AND REGULATION OF POLITICAL PARTY FINANCES
The effective functioning of political parties is fundamental to the promotion of constitutional democracy in South Africa and particularly the ability of such organizations to represent the public.
Political parties require adequate funding in order to perform their functions and enhance democracy and the manner and transparency of such funding is paramount in the context of building public confidence in our political system.
Public funding of political parties in South Africa is regulated by Section 236 of the Constitution, which states that “to enhance multi-party democracy, national legislation must provide for the funding of political parties participating in national and provincial legislatures on an equitable and proportional basis”.
Public Funding of Political Parties
The Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act (103 of 1997) (the Funding Act) created the Represented Political Parties’ Fund which is administered by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Since the establishment of the Fund, allocations have barely kept pace with inflation. In the 2017/2018 financial year, public funding for political parties amounts to just under R150m and is proportionally allocated to political parties. In addition to this fund, members of legislatures are funded by the respective institutions. Both monies from the fund and the legislatures may only be used for specific activities and must be accounted for. Thus amounts allocated to parties by the state constitute a negligible proportion of the financing of political activity in South Africa. Other funds are obtained from private sources which are unregulated.
Regulation of private financing
Currently, the limited nature of public funding for core party activities leads to extensive reliance on private donations. Not only are the various sources of financing fungible – making the efficacy of requirements in respect of public funding suspect – but the reliance on private funding fuels the perception that anonymous donations from business interests are a means to subvert democratic processes by influencing the awarding of contracts or framing of policy in a manner which advantages private interests, dilutes the voice of citizens and undermines the constitution.
Perceptions of undue influence and corruption are further fuelled by the absence of financial transparency amongst political parties. Currently, political parties are not required to disclose or report publicly on either the sources of their finances or the uses to which funds are put. Consequently, disclosure rules and the exclusion of certain categories of donor could therefore help to negate this perception.
Ad Hoc Committee on Party Funding in South Africa
In light of the issues raised above and arising from the resolution of the 52nd National Conference of the ANC in 2007 which states that;
“The ANC should champion the introduction of a comprehensive system of public funding of representative political parties in the different spheres of government and civil society organisations, as part of strengthening the tenets of our new democracy. This should include putting in place an effective regulatory architecture for private funding of political parties and civil society groups to enhance accountability and transparency to the citizenry.”
And the resolution of the 53rd National Conference of the ANC in 2012 also stating that;
“Public funding should be expanded in order to promote and support democracy. Such funding will be accompanied by full financial accountability and transparency by political parties, including regulation of private financing of political parties. Foreign funding should be permitted but must be regulated to avoid abuse and manipulation by external forces in the political affairs of our country”.
The ANC in Parliament will table a motion in terms of the National Assembly Rule 256 (1)(b) to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Party Funding in South Africa to;
1. enquire into and make recommendations on funding of political parties in South Africa with a view to introducing or amending legislation if necessary and, in doing so, consider -
a. a model for adequate public funding for political parties; and
b. the need for, and possible means of, regulating private funding of political parties in all its forms.
The above will also address concerns raised by civil society on the lack of transparency of party funding.
Our proposals therefore form part of the ANC’s programme to strengthen democracy, build transparency and accountability and ensure that all political parties achieve financial sustainability in a manner that is transparent, ethical, lawful and predictable.
Issued by Nonceba Mhlauli, Media Liaison Officer, Office of the ANC Chief Whip in Parliament, 18 May 2017