Should political parties accept foreign donations?

There are presently no rules that govern private donations to political parties or that compel their disclosure.

FILE: South African Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Sharp differences over whether political parties should be allowed to accept foreign donations have come to the fore in Parliament.

There are presently no rules that govern private donations to political parties or that compel their disclosure.

Lawmakers are hearing submissions on the political party funding bill that aims to address some of these gaps.

Committee Chairperson Vincent Smith is personally opposed to any foreign donations for local political parties.

“I think it’s patronising that 23 years down the line we must be dependent on somebody for our democracy.”

Casac’s Lawson Naidoo has argued, however, that all donations, whether foreign or local, could result in undue influence being exerted over a party.

“The real way to uncover attempts to influence political parties is to entrench transparency and to require disclosure, and not to simply say that all those who fund political parties have nefarious agendas.”

The bill currently allows for foreign donations – although not from governments – to support parties in developing their policies and members' skills.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)