IEC must stop soliciting donations for political parties
30 May 2021
Note to Editors: An audio clip by Lerato Ngobeni, ActionSA National Spokesperson, can be found here. Please download the file to access the clip.
At a National Party Liaison Committee (PLC) meeting held Thursday, 26 May 2021, the IEC made the startling confession that it is actively soliciting donations for the Multi-Party Democracy Fund (MPDF).
The MPDF is established by the Political Party Funding Act of 2018 (the Act), and is a fund, administered by the IEC, into which donors may make donations. These donations are distributed to political parties represented in the National Assembly in proportion to their representation. In the words, a sweet deal for the political parties who passed the legislation.
The fact that the IEC, by its own admission, is actively soliciting donations from private and corporate donors for the MPDF, means that they are actively raising funds for the 14 political parties represented in the National Assembly, to the exclusion of political parties like ActionSA who will not be represented until after the 2024 General Elections.
Nothing in the Act, nor the Regulations, empowers the IEC to solicit donations for the MPDF. According to Section 3(1) of the Act, the IEC’s obligations start with establishing and managing the MPDF and ends with distributing dividends to represented political parties.
By soliciting from private and corporate donors, the IEC is in violation of its Constitutional obligations, as a Chapter 9 Institution, requiring it to operate impartially, and without partisanship, towards any political party. Section 181(2) of the Constitution states as follows:
“These institutions are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and they must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice.”
ActionSA has written to the IEC CEO, Sy Mamabolo, and Deputy CEO, Masego Sheburi, to demand that:
They confirm that all activities for the solicitation of donations for the MPDF will cease with immediate effect;
An independent audit will be conducted to identify all funds, deposited into the MPDF, that have arisen from solicitation efforts by the IEC;
Such funds deposited in the MPDF be returned to the donors from which they originated;
A list of donors who have been approached be drawn up and that the IEC agree that no donation may be received from said donors for the next 12 months; and
That the above terms be made an order of court.
While we have made these demands upon the IEC, and given them 5 days to respond, ActionSA is confident that this is an error in judgement and that the senior leadership of the IEC will address the matter in good faith. Having said this, ActionSA has made it clear that it will approach the courts if necessary, to ensure these measures are taken.
It is bad enough that political parties represented in parliament receive billions in public funding every year from the South African taxpayers. This is made worse when the Act establishes a fund that adds the distribution of private funding to these same parties. It is intolerable that the IEC actively pursues funding that continues to perpetuate the status quo in our politics, especially when the status quo is failing South Africans.
Look no further than the recent by-elections where voter turnout in Gauteng alone was around 20%, in one ward in Tshwane even going down to 6%. This is not the sign of a country that wants the established political parties to be given more opportunity.
The IEC, as a Chapter 9 Institution, must be beyond reproach and must operate in a manner which cannot bring into question its impartiality.
Issued by Michael Beaumont, National Chairperson, ActionSA, 30 May 2021