Political Party Funding Act comes into play on 1 April - Presidency

The Act, among other things, prohibits donations to parties by foreign governments or agencies, foreign persons or entities, organs of state or state-owned enterprises.

Some members of Parliament in the House while others connect virtually on 23 June 2020. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Political Party Funding Act will come into operation on 1 April 2021 after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation on the 2018 Act. The draft regulations were signed into law in 2019.

The Presidency released a statement on the development on Friday, calling it "a historic development for transparency and accountability."

The Act regulates public and private funding of political parties. It has created a fund to assist political parties with funding. This will only be available for parties represented in Parliament and legislatures. But it also goes further, requiring parties to disclose donations and their donors to the Independent Electoral Commission.

"The Act prohibits donations to parties by foreign governments or agencies, foreign persons or entities, organs of state or state-owned enterprises. Parties may, however, receive funding from foreign entities for training, skills development or policy development. No member of a political party may receive a donation other than for political party purposes," the Presidency said through its statement.

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A year ago, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) began public hearings related to the Political Party Funding Act, which lasted two days. At the time, some civil society groups wanted the threshold for the declaration of political party funding lowered from R100,000 to R50,000, allowing it to cover even the smallest parties' donations.

Some also called for anonymity when it came to funding, so it didn't scare people away from donating.

"The implementation of the Political Party Funding Act will have far-reaching consequences for good governance and ethical political activity. It will strengthen the confidence of citizens in the democratic political process and enable them to assert their right to information," the Presidency said further on Friday.

The Act will ensure the establishment of the Represented Political Party Fund, which will provide funding for parties in legislative arms. It also will implement the Multi-Party Democracy Fund, which will fund parties from private sources.

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"The Act seeks to ensure that all represented political parties receive sufficient funds for their work in a fair and equitable manner," the Presidency said.

"It will enforce the online publication of all COVID-related contracts of all government departments and public entities, with plans underway to expand this approach to all areas of government procurement," the Presidency said.

"President Ramaphosa commends the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Department of Home Affairs, MPs, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders for the extensive preparatory work required to bring this legislation into operation. He calls on all parties to work together and with the IEC to ensure the effective implementation of this law," it added.

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