Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Thursday confirmed a ruling by the Western Cape High Court which found that the Promotion of Access to Information Act was unconstitutional because it did not provide for the disclosure of information pertaining to the private funding that political parties receive.
Non-profit organisation My Vote Counts had previously argued in the Constitutional Court that it was critical for voters to know who funded political parties so that citizens could be informed and make the right decisions.
Here are 10 quotes from Mogoeng's judgment:
1. "For every citizen to be truly free to make a political choice, including which party to join and which not to vote for or which political cause to campaign for or support, access to relevant or empowering information must be facilitated."
2. "...Political parties and independent candidates should not be left to pick and choose what information would be 'held', preserved and disclosed to those who depend on information to determine to whom to entrust their future, that of the nation and posterity."
2. "An environment must thus be created for the public to know more than what is said in manifestos or during campaign trails."
4."The reality is that private funders do not just thoughtlessly throw their resources around. They do so for a reason and quite strategically. Some pour in their resources because the policies of a particular party or independent candidate resonate[s] with their world outlook or ideology. Others do so hoping to influence the policy direction of those they support to advance personal or sectional interests."
5. "Money is the tool they [private funders] use to secure special favours or selfishly manipulate those who are required to serve and treat all citizens equally."
6. "Secrecy enables corruption and conduces more to disposition by politicians that is favourable towards those who funded them privately once elected into office."
7. "Lack of transparency on private funding provides fertile and well-watered ground for corruption or the deception of voters."
8. "Transparency in the area of the private funding of political and independent candidates helps in the detection or discouragement of improper influence and the fight against corruption."
9. "Access to this information helps voters and contestants to speak against and expose the corrupt 'pay-back-time' political practices."
10. "The commitment to build 'a united and democratic South Africa' and to 'improve the quality of life of all citizens' can only be honoured by public office bearers whose character or will-power is unencumbered."