Conclusion of public hearings into Political Party Funding Act Regulations

The Electoral Commission expresses its deep appreciation and gratitude to all the organisations, institutions, political parties and ordinary citizens who took the time to participate in the public engagement into the draft regulations for the Political Party Funding Act (Act 6 of 2018).

Since the draft regulations were published in March 2019, the Electoral Commission received over 4 300 written submissions ranging from those simply welcoming the introduction of a party funding regulatory regime to those who made substantive recommendations relating to the regulations and/or the legislation.

Over the past two days a range of civil society organisations, political parties, media organisations, business organisations, trade union organisations, public sector institutions and individuals used the opportunity to make oral presentations to the Commission.

The Electoral Commission welcomes the spirit of cooperation and support shown by all participants in seeking the implementation of an effective and efficient political party funding regime as soon as possible “A central theme which emerged during the hearings has been the overwhelming support for the legislation and regulations and a shared desire to see these implemented as a matter of urgency,” said Chairperson Mr Glen Mashinini

“This bodes very well for the cooperation and partnership which will be needed between political parties, civil society, the business community and others in implementing this new and important safeguard for electoral democracy.” The Electoral Commission appreciates the offers of assistance including with the development of capacity within the Electoral Commission especially by the business community.

The Electoral Commission will now study each submission in detail as part of the process to finalise the regulations. Where necessary, it may engage further with participants and stakeholders. The Electoral Commission is committed to implementing the legislation as soon as possible to ensure a framework of transparency is in place and operational for the local government elections scheduled for 2021.

Among the key milestones already achieved since the assenting to the Act by the President in January this year include:
• The development and publication for comment of draft regulations in March 2019; 
• An extensive public participatory process to finalise the regulations;
• The securing of start-up funding for the next two years from National Treasury for the implementation of the legislation including the establishment of a new party funding unit within the IEC;
• The recruitment and appointment of a Chief Executive for Party Funding; 
The Commission also continues to disburse funds to represented political parties in the existing terms and conditions of the Represented Political Party Fund legislation.

Among the activities which will now be prioritized include:
• The finalisation of regulations including the forms, structure and format of disclosures;
• The development and launch of an online system of disclosure for donors and recipients;
• The further and continued engagement with political parties on implementation through the Political Party Liaison Committee system; 
• The training of political party representatives in the party funding framework and the use of any electronic reporting system;
• An extensive programme of communication and education among all stakeholders to promote knowledge and understanding of the new political party funding framework including promoting the new Multiparty Democracy Fund;
• The finalisation of a process to disburse funds to represented political parties in terms of the new framework.

ISSUED BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Ensuring free and fair elections

2 August 2019

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