Casac wants party funding bill signed into law before elections

Casac says the bill in its current form, is something Parliament can be proud of particularly its dual disclosure mechanism for donations.

FILE: Party representatives of South Africa's thirteen political parties represented in parliament gather to take a selfie after they signed their pledges to abide by the IEC's code of conduct during the 2016 local government elections. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) wants the Political Party Funding Bill signed into law before the upcoming election season starts.

The bill seeks to regulate the public and private funding of political parties.

Casac has lauded it as an excellent piece of legislation, saying it could be ranked among the top five of its kind in the world.

An ad hoc committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is holding public hearings on Wednesday afternoon, to determine whether the bill adopted by the National Assembly in March should be amended before becoming law.

Casac says the bill in its current form, is something Parliament can be proud of particularly its dual disclosure mechanism for donations.

Richard Calland of the council’s advisory panel says the bill should be passed without further amendments.

“Why the urgency? Well, there is inevitably going to be a general election in the next 12 months or so. We think it is important that this bill be passed before that campaign season commences.”

The council says should the NCOP decide to make amendments to the bill, the R100,000 threshold for declaring a private donation, should be lowered.

It says while this amount could be fairly negligible for the main political parties, for smaller parties, an amount just below this threshold could be significant enough for a donor to wield influence.

Casac says it would prefer an even split of public funding to political parties, although the two thirds to one-third split in the bill is a vast improvement on the former 90:10 ratio.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)