Political Parties to Respond to Funding Request
By: Sheilan Clarke ● Party Funding ● 7 September 2018
As part of our commitment to promoting transparency in our political system, staff members of My Vote Counts and Right To Know have sent written letters to political parties requesting information about their organisational funding over the past five years. The reason for asking for this information over this period, is that we are nearing our next general election and we feel that it is imperative that the public is aware of political parties’ funding relationships since they were last voted into power almost five years ago.
By directly invoking Section 32(1)(b) of the Constitution, and exercising the right to access to information and the right to participate fully in elections through the right to vote, Ms Janine Ogle and Mr Mluleki Marongo have sent letters to each of the 13 political parties represented in Parliament asking them to disclose the following:
- The income of all donations (this includes donations, interest, dividends, loans, payments) from the amount of R10 000 for each financial year from March 2014 until May 2018 from all direct and third-party financial vehicles ( trusts, individuals, corporate entities) at the National, Provincial and Regional level;
- The identities of all donors who provided income above R10 000 to their political party either directly or through a third party in the form of donations, interest, dividends, loans, and or payments to any bank account, investment entities, trusts or third-party accounts of their political party.
On 20 August 2018 these letters were sent and parties were given a deadline of 10 September 2018 to respond. The Democratic Alliance is the only party to respond thus far.
Ms Ogle and Mr Marongo do not agree that the absence of effective legislation allows for parties to not disclose such information. The right to access information that one requires in order to access any of the constitutional rights is enshrined in section 32(1)(b) of the Constitution. The right that Ms Ogle and Mr Marongo are seeking to empower and protect by requesting this information is the right to make political choices and to vote in elections as found in section 19 of the Constitution.
The signatories to the letter also argue, referencing the 2018 Constitutional Court judgement on the unconstitutionality of PAIA that ruled the following:
“...PAIA does not regulate or regulate appropriately, access to information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates, which this case is about … In the interim, it is open to those seeking access to information on private funding to do so in terms of section 32(1)(b) of the Constitution …”
In the interest of transparency, accountability and upholding our democracy, we believe this information should be disclosed before the next general elections.
These letters follow an open letter addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa that MVC (along with Right 2 Know; amaBhungane; Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape; Open Democracy Advice Centre; Corruption Watch and South African National Editors’ Forum) published in the Mail & Guardian on 10 August 2018. In it we urged the President to sign the Political Party Funding Bill into law which was passed in Parliament in June this year.
You can read our open letter to the President here.
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