31 July 2017

South Africa: Reporter's Parliamentary Notebook - Private Political Donations Under Scrutiny in Ad Hoc Committee

Photo: Alcuin TK Lai/Wikipedia
Outside the Western Cape High Court (file photo).

Is the price for greater party-political funding from public coffers transparency in private donations? This discussion kicks off in Parliament on Thursday, when a specially established ad hoc committee starts ploughing through 17 public submissions with a view to holding public hearings later this month. As part of the widely welcomed legislative initiative, public proposals include tightening up oversight even over the existing state funding for political parties represented in legislatures, a donations cap, and transparent identification of donors. This comes amid a public discourse where corruption and capture loom large. By MARIANNE MERTEN.

It's been in the making for almost 13 years and follows two ultimately unsuccessful civil society public and legal campaigns for transparency of private donations - by Idasa in 2004, and MyVoteCounts (MVC) in 2015. A proposal for a parliamentary ad hoc committee into political funding was made as far back as May 2010 by the then Independent Democrats at the Chief Whips' Forum, a consultative structure in Parliament. The ANC at the time said it was a good idea, but more deliberation was required. "It was also the view of the (Chief Whips') Forum that discussion on the matter must be more about how political...

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