S. Africa strengthens scrutiny of political funding under new law

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Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Act (PAIA) which strengthens scrutiny of political funding, his office said on Friday.

The PAIA gives citizens access to information about funding for political parties, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

Under the Act, information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates must be recorded, preserved and disclosed so as to ensure transparency and accountability.

The records must be kept for at least five years after they have been created, according to the Act.

In a ruling on June 21, 2018, the Constitutional Court declared that the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 is invalid and unconstitutional as it does not provide for disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The court ordered Parliament to make necessary amendment to bring the Act in line with the Constitution and to take any other measures it deems appropriate.

Based on this ruling, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services put forward an amendment proposal last year, with support from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Both Houses of Parliament approved the amendment last year.

The amendment is expected to address concerns about over-reliance by political parties on private donations as well as the secrecy that clouds political party financing.

There have been concerns that the secrecy that clouds political party financing could damage democratic processes and lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of certain private funders.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, political parties in the country have been united in refusing to open their books, fueling concerns that anonymous donations from masked sources subvert democratic processes, lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of those private interests and dilute the voice of citizens.

– June 5, 2020 @ 10:50 GMT |

 

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