South Africa’s recent history demonstrates how money and narrow interests have captured the state, influenced our politics, derailed our service delivery, and weakened our institutions.
In recent weeks, our country has experienced some of the most significant upheavals since the dawn of democracy.
The recent protests in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have exposed the extent to which the looting of state resources can affect ordinary people’s lives.
The most severely affected are those living in townships or rural areas, where there is widespread unemployment and poor access to basic services such as food, water, and housing.
In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the country, corruption and mismanagement continue to plague our ability to respond effectively and prepare for future crises.
In this climate, the country celebrated the enactment of the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA) in April 2021, which ushered in a new era in our democracy after civil society fought for more than two years.
The PPFA provides a much-needed framework for transparency that ensures that political parties disclose information about who funds them.
The PPFA also establishes and manages a public and private fund, while prohibiting foreign governments or agencies, foreign people or companies, state organs, or state-owned corporations from giving gifts to political parties.
In addition, it establishes rules for declaring accepted donations and gives the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) responsibility and authority for administering and managing funds.
The desire to deepen our democracy and hold leaders of political parties accountable led to the formation of a coalition of civil society organizations and activists with journalistic support.
In its mission, the Coalition on Party Fundraising works to drive for a more transparent and accountable political funding environment through collective action.
Historically, unregulated private money in politics has been a source of corruption and inept governance.
A coalition will demand accountability and ensure that it happens.
A coalition will explore ways to ensure that the political party funding regulatory framework created by the PPFA is transparent and accountable.
In partnership with the Civic Alliance, the PPFA will promote political practices that benefit all South Africans.
The coalition recognizes that political parties are essential vehicles through which people can participate in democracy and that effective implementation of the PPFA will deter government corruption, enhance transparency and accountability, and contribute to a stronger and more robust democratic order.
With the disclosure of party funding by political parties, the coalition needs to focus on ensuring the PPFA is implemented effectively, provides what it promises and provides adequate capacity to administer it effectively.
The coalition commits to working together to:
- Maintain a compliance monitoring and evaluation process for funding disclosures.
- Improve public knowledge of who funds and influences political parties.
- Provide voters with information to help them make informed voting decisions.
- Provide alternatives to the current PPFA legislation, which hampers the ability of political parties to be transparent and accountable.
- Work to change our political landscape so that it is not influenced by money and narrow interests, but owned by all.
- Coalition members urge other civil society groups, academia, the media, and the public to closely follow the upcoming disclosures and advocate for full transparency throughout the process.
- In order to successfully implement the PPFA, all interested parties are invited to join the coalition and push for its effective implementation as an issue of primary importance for democracy and the public interest.
- A transparent and accountable system, which provides voters with information, is needed in our political system.
- Coalitions provide a new way to hold political parties responsible, expose corruption, and end undue political influence.