Idasa Launches Guidelines for Companies on Making Donations to Political Parties

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BYLINE: Thokozani Mtshali

THE Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) has published a set of guidelines on the private funding of political parties which challenge the country's private sector not to merely throw cash at politicians.

The suggested guidelines were unveiled in Johannesburg yesterday, and propose, among other things, that firms should consider other forms of financial aid to parties such as granting loans with clear terms and conditions for repayment.

It also proposes that donations above a certain annual threshold should be declared, and this should include all contributions to parties, as well as money spent on auctions at party events and sponsorships at conferences and fund-raising events.

Most political parties said they were still studying the guidelines launched by Idasa's Richard Calland and Judith February.

But most political party representatives at the launch were doubtful if South Africans would see a law on the statute books governing the private funding of parties before the next general election in 2009.

The lack of a law governing private donations to political parties, has prompted concerns that such a gap could spawn corruption, as some businesses would give money to political parties, especially those ruling nationally and in provinces, to get preferential treatment on future business ventures.

Existing laws such as the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act of 1997 only deals with the state funding of parties that have members in parliament and the provincial legislatures.

However, a number of parties have raised concerns about this law too, saying it benefited bigger parties such as the ANC and the DA. …