KZN taxes to fund parties?

2008-11-18 00:00

A bill proposing additional funding for political parties in the province was sneaked into the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature yesterday.

If passed, the African National Congress in KZN would get an additional R10 million to fight the 2009 national election.

Political parties already receive national government funding, which is administered by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The bill was proposed by the ANC during a sitting of the Finance portfolio committee yesterday, which was meeting to discuss forensic reports on two municipalities.

Opposition parties expressed surprise at the introduction of the bill.

The Democratic Alliance voiced its objection on the grounds that KZN already faces a serious financial crisis because of overspending in various departments.

DA leader Roger Burrows said it is not a provincial priority to fund political parties, which have already prepared their budgets for the forthcoming election.

The Inkatha Freedom Party supported the bill.

As the official opposition, it stands to gain a good few millions if the bill is passed.

The bill proposes that R20 million should go to the seven political parties currently in the legislature.

Twenty percent would be divided equally among the parties and 80% divided in proportion to the number of seats they hold and the number of votes they received during the previous general elections.

The parties that stand to benefit from the new bill are the ANC, IFP, DA, National Democratic Convention, Minority Front, United Democratic Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party.

Burrows said parties currently outside the legislature would not benefit from the funding. “The bulk of the funding will go to the strongest party in the legislature, thereby further strengthening its position,” he said.

Burrows said funding should be provided nationally, adding that no party is unique to KZN.

The IFP’s Muziwamandla Mzobe said the funding would ensure that political parties do not rely on business people for funding, who he said manipulate political parties after funding them.

“This is aimed at discouraging political parties from accepting funds from individuals or businesses, which has caused serious problems in the past. We have had parties that accepted funds and failed to declare,” he said.

KZN is the second province to consider this legislation.

Gauteng passed such a bill last year, and it was to be referred to the Constitutional Court as questions were raised about its constitutionality.

“Gauteng never went to the Constitutional Court and KwaZulu-Natal may follow their example,” Mzobe added.

Asked if the DA would reject any money, Burrows said that if the law is passed it would apply to all political parties, so the DA would take its portion, rather than see it shared by other political parties.

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