Let’s fix our democracy – with electoral and party funding reform

Do you think citizens should be able to hold their MPs to account? Do you know who funds political parties in South Africa? Who funds the ANC? Who funds the DA? What favours are they doing for those funders?

How much do political campaigns cost?

We have been campaigning for electoral reform and the regulation of party funding as the two issues go hand in hand for a healthier, more functional democracy. Party funding reform will be taking the forefront of our campaign this year.

There are many different ways of regulating donations to political parties and different methods have worked in different countries.

My Vote Counts will be hosting a Public Discussion on what types of regulation would work in South Africa. This discussion will take place on 2 May in Johannesburg, at the Johannesburg Country Club at 11 am

We would like to invite the press, as well as anyone who would like to take part in the discussion.

At present, there is no law that requires political parties to make public how much funding they receive and from whom they receive it. This leads to all kinds of problems. Backdoor deals are easier to make and special interests take preference over the interests of citizen’s. The connection between party funding and a healthy progressive democracy cannot be underestimated.

The United States’ 2012 presidential election was the most expensive in history, totalling US$ 6.3 billion. President Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns spent a combined US$ 2.6 million every day this past election cycle. In South Africa, the increase in parties’ election spending from private donations has increased from about R100 million in 1994 to R550 million in 2009 and is set to increase again next year. The major political party funding scandals – the Arms Deal in 1999 (worth about R30-70 billion); Oilgate in 2004 (worth about R11 million); the Chancellor House deal with Eskom and Hitachi Power Africa (valued at R38 billion); and the Gupta family funding (said to run into millions) – emphasise the urgency with which party funding must be addressed before our next general election.

Making funding transparent will make corrupt activities more difficult to undertake as the money will have to be accounted for. We will also be able to better ascertain whose interests the government is serving.

The types of questions we will be asking are how much should corporations be allowed to donate? Should there be monetary thresholds and if so what limits should be put in place? Should foreign governments be allowed to donate? What is the most effective way to make politics more accountable and less corrupt?

This discussion may shape the path that our campaign takes. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Venue Elm and Maple Room, Johannesburg Country Club, Auckland Park

Time 10.30 for 11.00 am.

Date 2 May 2013


Steven Friedman: Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Johannesburg

Ebrahim Fakir: Political Analyst

Jayshree Pather: Right 2 know

Chaired byProf Alex van Den Heever: Researcher at the Helen Suzman Foundation and Professor at WITS

Refreshments will be served
Contact Zukiswa Vuka for more information at zukie@myvotecounts.org.za or 072 762 5580