The EFF will challenge the Party Funding Bill in court if it gets passed with a provision that prohibits members of parties from accepting donations that aren’t meant for political purposes.
The EFF’s national legal head Kwena Manamela said this to the National Council of Provinces’ Ad Hoc Committee on Party Funding on Wednesday, after a broad range of civil society organisations expressed great enthusiasm for the bill.
Manamela said the EFF has expressed its support for legislation regulating party funding but added: “As the bill stands right now, the EFF is opposed to supporting it.”
They say the bill’s Section 10 is too broad. This section states that a member of a political party may only receive a donation on behalf of the party and for political purposes.
He said this was a borderline infringement on freedom of association and could deter people from joining political parties.
ANC MP from Mpumalanga, Landulile Dlamini asked: “How is this objection different from all the other objections they’ve done?”
“They (the EFF) are objecting to everything. How is this one different?” she added.
Manamela said their objection was genuine and added that they would challenge its constitutionality if the bill was passed as it was.
Organisations such as the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), the South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and AmaBhungane, Cosatu, My Vote Counts, Right2Know and Corruption Watch all supported the bill.
There was, however, suggestions to improve the bill, with the provision that donations to parties under R100 000 could be anonymous generally opposed.
My Vote Counts and R2K suggested that the figure be lowered to R10 000, and Casac suggested R50 000. But Cosatu said it should be scrapped completely.
There were also calls to make it illegal for companies who make donations to parties to do business with the state, and to regulate parties’ investments.
R2K’s Murray Hunter said the bill was not only about fighting corruption, but also to ensure political equality – that people with cheque books don’t pull the strings under a veil of anonymity, while other people’s only currency was a cross on a ballot paper.
Martin van Staden of the Free Market Foundation said they supported the bill, but it should not be implemented just yet. He said state officials have too many discretionary powers, which would mean people would fear donating to opposition parties if they were to be named because they could be victimised.
He said if implemented now, it could mean that opposition parties would receive fewer donations.
Corruption Watch asked that the bill be adopted as soon as possible.
Last year, the National Assembly adopted a motion to establish an ad hoc committee to inquire into and make recommendations on, the funding of political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures, with a view to introducing amended legislation.
The bill is the product of this process.
It was adopted in the National Assembly, with the EFF’s objection and the DA’s reservations, in March and referred to the National Council of Provinces, which is now dealing with it.