Show us your funders – perhaps after the next election

CAPE TOWN — From the great deal we suspect with little assistance from the sadly ineffectual legal instruments we’ve had, shadowy party funding donations in this country proved fertile soil for buying political favour. Were it not for whistleblowers at the various ongoing commissions probing State Capture and general endemic corruption, we wouldn’t even know, for example, that Bosasa allegedly helped fund President Cyril Ramaphosa’s party-presidential election campaign. The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), was ruled constitutionally inadequate to the job some two years ago, spurned as it was by parties parrying court applications by pro-democracy NGOs. The Concourt said parliament should close the non-disclosure escape hatches fast. We can only imagine what actually went on, given the normative back-room dealing and bribery outside of election season. But you need to get ‘your people’ into office before you can use them. Party resistance to funding disclosure was historically strong – by both the DA and the ANC – but they’ve since capitulated (needed the time to clean up their acts?), with only the EFF holding out, (no surprises there). This story is an update on the new funding transparency law due for implementation from April 1st this year. – Chris Bateman

By Amogelang Mbatha

(Bloomberg) – A law requiring political parties in South Africa to reveal their funding will come into effect on April 1, the country’s electoral commission said.

The Political Party Funding Bill, which Eyewitness News said was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa late Tuesday, requires parties to disclose all donations above R100,000 ($7,200). It also prohibits them from accepting donations from foreign governments, state-owned entities and organs of state.

“We are planning to implement the act on April 1 and the practicalities are such that it may be impossible for parties to submit their disclosures before the election date,” Sy Mamabolo, the chief electoral officer of the Independent Electoral Commission, told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria, referring to voting likely to take place in May. “Soon thereafter there will be a requirement for them to submit and that may include elections-related expenditure.”

Failure to comply with the law, that requires disclosure by the donor and receiving party, could result in a fine or criminal prosecution, Mamabolo added.