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It will cost IEC R45m to start political party donations unit

The draft Political Party Funding Bill proposes that the IEC also run the proposed multi-party democracy fund that will receive private donations and divide the money between parties.

Independent Electoral Commission Chairperson Glen Mashinini. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it will need a start-up budget of R45 million to set up a separate unit that will manage public and private donations to political parties.

The IEC presently administers the money government allocates to parties represented in Parliament and provincial legislatures.

The draft Political Party Funding Bill proposes that the IEC also run the proposed multi-party democracy fund that will receive private donations and divide the money between parties.

While the IEC says it is willing to manage the multi-party democracy fund, it has made it clear this mandate must be separate so as not to interfere with its ability to run elections.

IEC Chairperson Glenn Mashinini has also made it clear that it can only do this if it receives appropriate funding.

“We cannot as a commission take any additional mandate and responsibility without commensurate funding.”

Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo’s told Members of Parliament the proposed start-up budget for a separate political party funding unit within the IEC would be R45 million, of which R11 million would cover staff costs, R33 million for operating expenses and R1 million for computers, furniture and equipment.

Mamabolo says the IEC’s finances are already stretched.

It would need to manage and market the new fund, and hire experts to help monitor compliance and take action against parties that breach the proposed new political funding law.

The IEC says businesses should be given an incentive to encourage them to make donations to the proposed multi-party democracy fund.

The fund is a key proposal of the new draft law parliament is working on to regulate the private funding of political parties and ensure greater transparency through disclosure.

The IEC on Friday gave its responses to the committee dealing with the bill.

Mamabolo said: “We need to create some carrot for those corporates who fund political parties via the multi-party democracy fund. We believe that the lack of compelling incentives to donate to the fund will impair efforts to raise funds and will threaten the viability of the multi-party democracy fund.”

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