13 March 2018

South Africa: Concourt Holds Confirmation Hearing On Political Party Funding

A confirmation hearing is expected to be held in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday for a Western Cape High Court judgment on the constitutionality of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which relates to access to information on the private funding of political parties.

In September last year, the High Court ruled that Parliament must amend the act to allow the public access to this information.

Judge Yasmin Shenaz Meer ruled that Parliament had 18 months to rectify "inconsistencies" in the PAIA, following an application by non-profit organisation My Vote Counts (MVC).

Meer said information about private funding was "reasonably required" for the effective exercise of the right to vote and to make political choices.

MVC said it believed information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates was "reasonably required to exercise an 'informed' vote at the ballot box".

"Access to information about the private funding of political parties was not required during the apartheid era, and more than 20 years into South Africa's democracy, political parties continue to insist on accepting private funds in secret," it said in an earlier statement.

The organisation explained that the High Court order concerned the constitutional validity of an act of Parliament, but that it was of no force until it has been confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

"This is the Constitutional Court hearing that MVC will appear in, with the Minister of Justice as the only opposing party.

"This litigation process aims to reform our political system by making it more transparent to the South African public, therefore allowing the public to hold political representatives and political organisations more accountable, not only on election day but also in between elections."

MVC said the judgment, once confirmed, will "provide a necessary change to South African politics, where political parties will no longer operate in secret and allow for greater understanding of the values that our political parties are based on".


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