Tomorrow, the National Assembly will vote on the far-reaching Electoral Matters Amendment Bill (EMAB). The EMAB was introduced by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in December 2023, ostensibly to bring several laws in line with the amended Electoral Act (2023). 

On 1 March 2024 the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs adopted the EMAB with some amendments that, if signed into law, will have detrimental consequences to the constitutional imperatives of transparency, openness, and accountability. In a show of political expedience, several of the amendments related to political party funding have strayed far beyond the scope of what is necessary to be in line with the amended Electoral Act. If signed into law, these wide-reaching amendments will open opportunities for a money-grab by political parties prior to a highly contested election. 

Specifically, the opportunistic amendments relate to two crucial Regulations in Schedule 2 of the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA), and seeks to amend the following: 

  • The allocation formula for political party funding from the state through the Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) from two-thirds proportional and one-third equitable to 90% proportional and 10% equitable. This reverts to the funding formula in place before the introduction of the PPFA and will only benefit larger parties. The funding formula that has been in effect since April 2021 (two-thirds proportional and on-third equitable) was developed to provide a more even playing field in terms of public funding, and to provide smaller or emerging parties with a bigger slice of the public funding pie.  
  • The way the annual upper limit of donations and the disclosure threshold is determined. Following criticism, the proposed amendment in the original version of EMAB to expand the President’s powers in relation to determining the annual disclosure threshold (currently R100,00) and the annual upper limit (currently at R15 million), was rejected by the Portfolio Committee. However, the adopted version of the Bill repeals the Regulations that regulate how these two vitally important limits are determined. Therefore, there will be a legal void if the EMAB is signed into law, without a simultaneous proclamation by the President of the disclosure threshold and the upper limit. If this transpires, there will be no disclosure threshold or upper limit in place, completely undermining key objectives of the PPFA. 

Taking us back to secrecy in our politics 

This move is consistent with the ANC’s ongoing campaign to undermine the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA) by expanding its reporting threshold and annual funding limits. A year ago, the ANC instructed its MPs to use Parliamentary processes to give life to this campaign.  

Ironically, when President Ramaphosa signed the PPFA into law on 1 April 2021, he said that it was, “part of the commitment of this administration to improving transparency and accountability in government”. If the ANC forces this through Parliament without remedying these defects, it will not only be challenged in Court, but reinforce the notion that the governing party is willing to forego on value and principle in the pursuit of power.   

The campaign has also been supported by other established political parties and, if successful, will take us back to the years of secrecy in our politics and will see the grip that money has on our democracy expanded.  

It is clear that these amendments in the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill are plainly unconstitutional and a grave threat to our democracy. We call on members of the National Assembly to reject these amendments and for Parliament to ensure that any changes in the law are in the public interest.  

Submitted by My Vote Counts 

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