For a very long time, the ordinary citizens of South Africa have been kept in the dark. They have no idea of what and who exactly runs the country. We all lived and most of us still live on the basis of what you see is what you get? But then who runs the country? Who exactly has the power and controls over the finances of the Country? Who governs? Is it the political parties in power or is it the ones who funds the political parties in power?
Money and politics go hand in hand. In simple terms money has an enormous impact on the direction within which a country’s politics will follow. Money further has an influence on political systems and democratic outcomes all over the world. Within the South African landscape, little has been known in terms of who funds the political parties in power. In other words, the invisible hand influencing political parties represented in parliament remains unknown.
Given this notion, the ‘My Vote Count Campaign’ together with other advocates of disclosure such as ‘Right2Know’ raised the issue of corruption related to financing of political parties. In other words, they are/were much concerned with the issue of lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to financing political parties. At the core of their debate, the advocates of disclosure within the South African landscape asserted that who finance their political parties is a violation of the right to information.
After hearing the argument given by the advocates of disclosure, the court propelled the visible hand of the government to address the issue. On the 19th of January 2019, the visible hand of the government then asserted a Bill on Political Party Funding. The Bill is meant to address the issues of transparency and accountability of which the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act 103 of 1997 failed to address.
To a larger extent the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act 103 of 1997 failed to address the issue of private funding of political parties. Given this, the act allowed corruption relating to private funding of political parties to swerve in the political landscape. The basic assumption is that the act covered private funders of political parties, of whom have a direct influence on the activities of the visible government. This means that corruption related to private funding of political parties was triggered by lack of transparency.
The passing of the Bill by the Government was quite a formidable move. The IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) has on the contrary indicated that the system can only be able to kick-start after six months. This notion however contradicts the entire purpose of having the Bill being signed prior the elections 2019. In that, the majority of the South African Citizens will still have no idea of who funds their political parties’ prior election 2019.
In other words the Bill will only come into effect after the National Elections. Those who have the upper hand in influencing the direction which the South African government will still remain unknown. The mighty hand of the government still remains invisible.
Article by: Tsakisani Machebe (Political Commentator)