It has been a big month for My Vote Counts! On 16 May, we launched an application at the Western Cape High Court challenging aspects of the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA). Before its implementation on 1 April 2021, we spoke about the need to strengthen the Act and clear up any ambiguities. For MVC: access to information, transparent and accountable politics have always been at the cornerstone of our work.
Just like our Western Cape High Court application in 2016 regarding the invalidity of the Promotion of Access to Information Act as it excluded information on private political funding, this court application speaks to the need for access to information for voters to make an informed vote. It also speaks to deepening democracy through ensuring greater transparency and accountability of private political funding.
The main failures of the Act we seek to be addressed include:
• All private donations be disclosed; effectively scrapping the R100 000 disclosure threshold. Having this disclosure threshold defeats the purpose of disclosure and in effect, defeats the purpose of the Act.
• The R15 million maximum donation limit in a financial year be significantly reduced. What we have observed in the two years of quarterly disclosures is a heavy reliance on private funding by political parties. The quarterly disclosures have shown how large donors have the potential to yield undue influence.
• The disclosure of financial information related to all expenditure of private donations. The Act does compel parties to keep record of every cent received and thus they do have this information. We are therefore calling for the disclosure of this information as well.