Political Parties 'Must Reveal Their Donors'

Cape Times (South Africa), February 5, 2013 | Go to article overview

Political Parties 'Must Reveal Their Donors'


BYLINE: Sue Segar Political Bureau

THE back-and-forth over political party funding that followed claims DA leader Helen Zille had accepted a donation from the Gupta family continued yesterday, with the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) adding its voice to growing calls for the regulation of donations to parties.

Casac slammed Zille's statement that the DA would introduce legislation forcing political parties to reveal their donors only when it "comes to power", saying this was "disingenuous and disappointing".

"The DA is already in power - in the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government. It is even more important that we know who funds them. With power comes responsibility and it is time the DA accepted that the public is sick and tired of this issue. There is no evidence that donors to the DA will suffer reprisals," said Casac chairman Dr Sipho Pityana.

He said the "toxic" subject of political party funding continued to contaminate politics and undermine the constitutional principles of accountability and transparency, "as recent scandals involving both the ANC and DA have again shown".

Responding yesterday, DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said there was clear evidence that donors to the DA would suffer reprisals.

"Firstly, the ANC is systematically favouring those individuals and companies that do donate to it. Secondly, one only has to look at the treatment FNB received for doing something the ANC did not approve of. If the ANC reacted so aggressively to some YouTube videos, one can only imagine what they would do to those companies that give money to their opponents.

"The only way transparent party funding can work is if all parties open their books simultaneously. We would have to be in power at the national level to be able to compel all political parties to reveal their sources of funding. The ANC in national government has the power to do so now, but they have chosen not to."

Casac has called on all political parties to take immediate action to regulate political party funding before the start of the 2014 election campaigns.

"It must be recalled that political parties declared to the Cape High Court in 2005 in the case brought by Idasa that they will introduce appropriate legislation to regulate party funding. They have to date failed to abide by this promise. The ANC has also, at its Polokwane conference in 2007, adopted policy positions in favour of the regulation of political party funding."

The issue of party funding arose in recent weeks after Zille withdrew from a New Age business breakfast as it was sponsored by state-owned enterprises. …

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