South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Sunday called for the regulation of private financing of political parties amid growing reliance by these parties on private donations.
In a submission to Parliament on matters relating to the review and strengthening of political funding, the ANC said political financing must be transparent in a way that will promote and support democracy.
This came after the current over-reliance by political parties on private donations as well as the secrecy that clouds political party financing has fueled perceptions 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.
“Transparency therefore is necessary to increase public confidence in the democratic system and to allow parties to remain financially sustainable in an ethical, lawful and predictable manner,” ANC Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize said.
Party finances, Mkhize said, must be open to public scrutiny and discussions engaged on the desirability of donations from, amongst other categories, foreign interests or from companies that conduct substantial business with the state.
The ANC appreciates the current fiscal constraints and thus the need to revise current allocations to political party funding without sacrificing other important public priorities, said Mkhize.
The ANC therefore calls on Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee to consider these proposed reforms to strengthen democracy, combat corruption and build transparency and accountability in the funding of political parties in line with the party’s stated commitments to prudent financial management.
The multiparty special parliamentary committee, set up earlier this month, is responsible for enquiring into and making recommendations on funding of political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures.
At its first meeting on Friday, the committee unanimously decided that the public will be invited to submit views on the proposed model to adequately fund political parties, regulate private funding and to ensure transparency and accountability.
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, political parties in the country have been united in refusing to open their books.
Currently political parties are not required to declare sources of their funds or how they use their money.