Represented Political Parties Fund
Frequently asked questions about represented political parties fund
How does a party obtain public funding?
A political party is entitled to an allocation from the RPPF for any financial year that it is represented in the National Assembly and/or in any provincial legislature. In other words, no allocations are made from the RPPF to political parties which are represented in municipal councils only (nor to those which have no public representatives at all).
For what purposes may a party use its allocation from the RPPF?
Section 5(1)(b) of the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act says that the allocation may be used "for any purposes compatible with [the party's] functioning as a political party in a modern democracy", and that these include:
- the development of the political will of people (allowing voters to choose);
- bringing the party’s influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion (providing voters with a choice);
- inspiring and furthering political education (keeping voters up to date with what is available and who is offering what);
- promoting active participation by individual citizens in political life (getting people involved);
- exercising an influence on political trends;
- ensuring continuous, vital links between the people and organs of state (developing the interface between citizens and public administration;
- A party must account for the money allocated to it under these classifications: personnel expenditure, accommodation, travel expenses, arrangement of meetings and rallies, administration, and promotions and publications.
Are there any specific prohibitions on the uses to which a party may put its allocation from the RPPF?
Yes: these are set out in section 5(3) of the Act.
A political party may not:
- pay any direct or indirect remuneration or other benefit of any kind to any elected representative of the party or to any public servant at any level of government;
- finance or contribute directly or indirectly to any matter, cause, event or occasion if it contravenes any code of ethics binding on members of parliament or any provincial legislature;
- use the money directly or indirectly to start any business or acquire or maintain a right or financial interest in any business;
- use the money directly or indirectly to acquire or maintain a right or financial interest in any immovable property, unless if solely for ordinary party-political purpose;
- use the money for anything else that is incompatible with a political party’s functioning in a modern democracy.
In effect, this means that the RPPF is administered through the IEC, which keeps parties informed of the relevant rules and regulations.
The responsibilities of each political party receiving an allocation from the Fund include the following:
- Keep a separate account with a bank in the Republic, into which money allocated from the RPPF must be deposited.
- Appoint an official within the party as accounting officer to take responsibility for the money received in this bank account and ensure that the party complies with the requirements of the Act.
- The accounting officer must keep separate books and records for this money in the manner prescribed.
- An income and expenditure statement, showing for what purposes the money has been applied, must be audited annually. The auditor is to express an opinion as to whether the allocation has been spent for purposes not authorised by the Act.
- The accounting officer must submit the financial statement and the auditor’s report to the Commission annually.
Annual Reports of the Represented Political Party Fund [listed from 1998/99 – 2018/19]
Multi-Party Democracy Fund
Frequently asked questions about multi-party democracy fund
Who may donate to the Multiparty Democracy Fund?
Any private individual or corporate entity may donate funds to the MPDF. Those excluded from making donations are organs of state, state owned enterprises and any foreign government or foreign government agency.
Who may not donate to the MPDF?
The following are not permitted to donate funds to the MPDF:
- Any organ of state;
- Any state owned enterprise; and
- Any foreign government or foreign government agency.
How are the funds distributed?
Funds from the MPDF are distributed according to the formula:
- 1/3 equal (33.3%) representation.
- 2/3 proportional (66.6%) representation.
Who are the beneficiaries of the funds?
Political parties represented in national and/or provincial legislatures are the beneficiaries of the funds raised by the MPDF.
What may the funds be used for by political parties?
The funds may be used by a represented political party for any purpose compatible with its functioning as a political party including:
- The development of the political will of the people;
- Bringing the party's influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion;
- Inspiring and further political education;
- Promoting active participation by individual citizens in political life;
- Exercising an influence on political trends;
- Ensuring continuous and vital links between the people and organs of state; and
- Complying with provisions of the Political Party Funding Act.
What may the funds be NOT used for by political parties?
The Act prohibits the use of funds from the MPDF by represented political parties:
- To directly or indirectly pay any remuneration, fee, reward or other benefit to a person representing the party in any legislature (including national, provincial and municipal councils;
- To directly or indirectly pay any remuneration, fee, reward or other benefit to a person who is appointed by or in the service of the state and is paid for that service;
- To finance or contribute to (either directly or indirectly) any cause, matter, event or occasion in contravention of the code of ethics of the national assembly or provincial legislatures;
- To directly or indirectly establish a business or acquiring or maintaining any right of financial interest in any business or immovable property – except where the right or interest in the immovable property is solely for party political purposes;
- To defray legal costs relating to internal political party disputes.
How often are distributions made?
Depending on availability, funds from the MPDF are distributed quarterly to represented political parties.
What are the benefits of donating to the MPDF rather than directly to political parties?
Many organisations and individuals want to support multiparty democracy in South Africa but wish to remain impartial/a-political and do not want to support any specific political party.
The MPDF provides a channel for donations in support of multiparty democracy at “an arms’ length” and leaves the distribution of the funds up to the Electoral Commission according to the prescribed formula.
The Fund is carefully regulated and all income, administrative costs and distributions are audited and reported on to Parliament annually.
Donors may also request to remain anonymous when donating to the MPDF.
Private funding of political parties
Frequently asked questions about private funding of political parties
Which political parties are governed by the Political Party Funding Act?
The Political Party Funding Act applies to all registered political parties whether represented in the national and provincial legislatures or not.
The Act further defines "political parties" as "including any entity that accepts donations principally to support or oppose any registered political party or its candidates in an election".
When are political parties and their donors required to disclose their sources of funding?
The regulations require each party to disclose any funding above the annual threshold to the Electoral Commission:
- On a quarterly basis (i.e. every three months).
What are the obligations of donors?
Any person or organisation making a donation to a political party which individually or cumulatively exceeds R100 000 per year must report that donation to the Electoral Commission within 30 days of making the donation or within 30 days of when the cumulative donations exceeded R100 000.
Which party representative will be responsible for funding disclosure?
The accounting officer of a political party or duly authorized office bearer of the political party is responsible for disclosing donations.
How will disclosure be made?
The Electoral Commission is currently developing an online disclosure system which will allow both political parties and donors to made disclosures electronically.
Will the Electoral Commission provide any training on the funding disclosure system?
As part of our preparations for the implementation of the Political Party Funding Act and its regulations, the Electoral Commission is developing training guides and material which will be made available to all stakeholders. We are also planning for special training of political party representatives.
Announcements will be made about this in due course.
What restrictions are there on the moneys for the RPPF and MPDF?
The Electoral Commission may not accept money for the Multiparty Democracy Fund (MPDF) from:
- Any organ of state;
- Any state owned enterprise;
- Any foreign government or foreign government agency;
- Any donor to the MPDF may request to remain anonymous.
Purposes for which money from RPPF and MPDF may not be used:
- To pay remuneration to any person representing the party in the national, provincial or municipal legislatures;
- To pay remuneration to any person in the service of the state and who receives remuneration for that service;
- To finance or support any cause in contravention of any code of ethics binding on members of parliament or provincial legislature;
- To establish any business or acquiring or maintaining immovable property (except where that property is to be used solely by the party for party political purposes;
- To defray legal expenses relating to internal party disputes;
- Any other purpose which may be prescribed.
What are the limits and thresholds to private funding of political parties?
Political parties and donors must disclose donations above a cumulative total of R100 000 in a financial year. This means donations of R100 000 or more must be immediately disclosed and any cumulative donations must be disclosed immediately when they exceed the cumulative total of R100 000 during a year.
Maximum donation amount for private donors (individuals or entities) is R15 million per year, per party.
Parties cannot receive donations from:
- Foreign governments or agencies;
- Foreign persons or entities (*see below);
- Any organ of state;
- State owned enterprises.
Parties may not accept donations where it knows or ought to have known or suspected they are the proceeds of crime and must report this to the Commission.
Parties may accept donations from foreign persons or entities for the purpose of:
- Training or skills development of a member of the political party; or
- Policy development by the party;
- This is limited to R5 million per financial year in total.
What is a donation?
Donations include donations in kind but excludes membership fees or any levy imposed by the party on its elected representatives and any funds provided to political parties in terms of sections 57(2)(c) and 116(2)(c) of the Constitution.
What is a donation in kind?
A donation in kind includes:
- Any money lent to the political party other than on commercial terms;
- Any money paid on behalf of the political party for any expenses incurred directly or indirectly by the political party;
- The provision of assets, services or facilities for the use or benefit of a political party other than those provided on a commercial basis;
- A sponsorship.
A donation in kind does not include services rendered personally by volunteers.
What are the obligations of the Electoral Commission in terms of the Political Party Funding Act and its regulations?
The Electoral Commission must:
What are the obligations of political parties with respect to the Political Party Funding Act and its regulations?
Political parties must disclose all donations received above R100 000 a year (either individual donations of cumulatively) to the Electoral Commission every three months.
Political parties must deposit all donations received into a separate bank account.
Appoint an accounting officer who must:
- Account for all income received by the party;
- Ensure any money from the Funds is not used for a prohibited purpose;
- Ensure compliance with the Act;
- Prepare financial statements showing all money received by the party;
- Appoint an auditor to audit its financial statements annually and express an opinion on whether the party has complied with all aspects of the Ac;
- The Accounting Officer must submit the auditor’s opinion and financial statements to the Electoral Commission once a year.
What about independent candidates?
Independent candidates are currently exempt from the Political Party Funding Act and its regulations. However, proposed amendments to the Promotion of Access to Information Act [insert link] do impose obligations for disclosure of funding on independent candidates. If approved and enacted, it will require independent candidates to keep and publish records of donations via social media.
What are the consequences of non-compliance with the Political Party Funding Act and its regulations?
The Act provides the Electoral Commission with a range of powers to ensure compliance with the legislation and regulations including issuing:
- Withholding distribution of funds from the RPPF and MPDF;
- The recovery of money irregularly accepted or spent; and
- Imposing administrative fines (via the Electoral Court).