The Political Party Funding Act (6 of 2018) came into operation on 1 April 2021.
The Political Party Funding Act provides legislation for three key areas:
- The annual disbursement of public money to political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures through the Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) (It repeals the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 103 of 1997).
- The establishment of a new Multiparty Democracy Fund (MPDF) which will accept private donations and disburse these to political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures.
- The regulation of private funding (donations) to political parties, including requiring the disclosure of all donations above R100 000 by political parties and their donors, and imposing certain restrictions on the source and use of such donations.
Background to the Political Party Funding Act
On 6 June 2017 the National Assembly resolved to establish the Ad Hoc Committee on the Funding of Political Parties ("the Committee") with a mandate to enquire into and make recommendations on the funding of political parties represented in national and provincial legislatures with a view to introducing, if necessary, amending legislation.
The establishment of the Committee was in response to growing public and political pressure for the introduction of a regulatory framework governing party funding. This included a number of legal challenges seeking to compel political parties to disclosure their sources of funding by civil society organisations between 2016 and 2018.
As a point of departure the Committee invited public comment on the funding of political parties including the adequacy or not of the existing legislation. The Electoral Commission was also invited to brief the Committee on party funding including international best practice.
On 22 August 2017 the Committee, having deliberated on the public input received, agreed to repeal the existing Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act, 103 of 1997, and instructed the Parliamentary Legal Services Unit to draft new legislation.
The Political Party Funding Bill was subsequently approved by the National Assembly in March 2018 and approved without amendment by the National Council of Provinces in July 2018.
The Act was assented to by the President on 22 January 2019 and promulgated in February 2021 to come into effect on 1 April 2021.
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