Civil society works together to guard against the abuse of political party funding
The final State Capture Commission report has laid bare the extent to which money has been used to influence the South African state, in favour of unscrupulous private interests. The President has advised Parliament to act on the findings of the final report and the ruling party has committed to dealing with its findings.
However, the report has also shown that we cannot rely on the supposed will of public representatives to counter the toxic relationship between money and politics. The report is also a call for ordinary people to ensure that public representatives are accountable. A strengthened Political Party Funding Act (PPFA) will provide us with some of the tools to do this.
State capture and the Political Party Funding Act
The State Capture Commission report has shown how large and small amounts of money have been used to secure substantial tenders, appoint senior government officials and, ultimately, sway decisions in favour of narrow interests at the expense of the public. Ultimately, state capture cost us an estimated R50 billion, consolidated patronage networks and hollowed out our democracy.
The PPFA emerged out of a need to counter large-scale corruption during the state capture years. It, in part, attempts to prevent “state capture” by forcing political parties to disclose private donations above R100 000 and limiting the amount a single donor can donate to a party to R15 million. So far, these disclosures have given us valuable insight into who funds and influences our politics. Worryingly, in December 2021 it was revealed that the ANC intends to expand the existing PPFA limits or scrap these altogether. This, despite the Zondo Commission showing that state influence can be bought for way less than R100 000 and even as little R15 000.
As members of civil society, we will continue to defend, uphold, and deepen our democracy. The Zondo Commission report lays bare the urgency of this mission. We will ensure that the capture of our democracy and the toxic relationship between money and politics does not continue.
As a first step, we will collectively work towards:
Ensuring that those in the private and public sector implicated in state capture are held to account;
Guarding against threats, and specifically attempts to undermine the existing thresholds and limits in the PPFA;
Building a campaign to strengthen the PPFA framework;
Monitoring and supporting the implementation of the PPFA;
Strengthening public knowledge of the PPFA; and
Advocating for transparency and standardisation of provincial funding allocations to political parties.
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
Alternative Information and Development Centre
Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
Dullah Omar Institute, Womxn and Democracy Initiative
Helen Suzman Foundation
Defend Our Democracy
Democracy Development Program
My Vote Counts
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse
Parliamentary Monitoring Group
Public Service Accountability Monitor