OPINION

Funding of political parties unconstitutional – Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader says way in which funding model is currently being applied is unfair towards opposition parties

Funding of political parties unconstitutional and unfairly bias towards the ANC

18 May 2017

Elections in South Africa will not be free and fair whilst the state's party political funding model is bias towards the ruling ANC. The forthcoming 2019 general election will be of the utmost importance for the country's democracy and for the future of every South African. Therefore, it is crucial that it should be free and fair, says Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus.

Groenewald says the way in which the funding model in terms of section 236 of the Constitution is currently being applied mainly benefits the ANC and is unfair towards opposition parties.

He says at present, the applicable legislation stipulates that 90% of the funds is to be allocated proportionally and only 10% on an equal basis. As a result, the ANC received R83,58 million from the R140,72 million for the 2017/2018 financial year. The DA received R30,47 million and the remaining R26,67 million is divided between eleven other opposition parties.

In the five years from 2010 to the end of 2014, the ANC received R324,16 million, the DA R85,64 million and the FF Plus R5,52 million.

Dr. Groenewald says this translates into the taxpayers' money being utilised to finance a corrupt ruling party's election campaign and to ensure the ANC's retention of power.

“Section 236 states that, in order to promote multi-party democracy, legislation must fund political parties that have representation in parliament and provincial legislatures on an equitable and proportional basis. The Political Parties Funding Act, administered by the Electoral Commission, manages this funding.

"The FF Plus believes that this Act is not only unfair but also unconstitutional. We believe that a 90% proportional and only 10% equitable distribution of the funds does not comply with the imperative of an “equitable and proportional" distribution as stipulated by the Constitution.

"As far as the election campaign is concerned, the costs for all the political parties are the same. The cost of erecting a poster on a lamppost is about R30. The cost of only 300 000 posters is thus R9 million. A single front page advertisement in Rapport amounts to R400 000. A single 30 second radio advert amounts to more than R8 000. This clearly shows how uneven the current formula makes competitiveness during elections.

"As far as private donations are concerned, the FF Plus is in favour of parties disclosing the names of donors. This must apply to all parties and especially to the ANC. If companies want to donate money for the sake of a healthy democracy and to ensure free and fair elections, the money can be placed in a fund and divided between the parties in a fair way.

“The FF Plus obtained favourable legal opinions on the matter. We are currently in the process of initiating a court case in order to ensure a fairer distribution of funds. Other opposition parties are also invited to participate in this initiative in order to ensure true multi-party democracy and to ensure that the 2019 election is free and fair," said Dr. Pieter Groenewald.

Issued by Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus Leader, 18 May 2017