Taxpayers should fund democracy: Phosa

By Drum Digital
08 June 2012

Taxpayers should help fund political parties in elections, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa said on Friday.

"[When] we look at all other democracies, the taxpayer is paying for elections, in support of democracy," Phosa told reporters in Pretoria.

He was briefing the media following a two-day workshop on political party funding attended by African National Congress regional treasurers from across the country.

"South Africa's situation is that not a cent is paid by taxpayers for elections, whether it be national, provincial or local government."

At the moment, political parties have to raise their own funds.

Taxpayer funding of democracy was among recommendations to have come out of the workshop, which looked at four areas which needed to be transformed: the control of private donations; increased public funding; expenditure limits; and the introduction of greater transparency.

Taxpayers' money could be used to conduct research and to train public representatives -- such as members of Parliament and MECs -- as it is done in Germany.

“Now we don't just throw the guys in parliament and have the troubles that we had last week and say, 'oh they are not so effective, they are not so disciplined', you must train them," Phosa said.

The recommendations that came out of the workshop call for urgent reform in political party funding, including greater transparency and caps on certain donations.

Private donations should be capped and declared publicly, should the donor wish it so.

The recommendations from this conference would be debated at the ANC policy conference later this month. Any resolutions taken there would need to be ratified at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in the Free State, in December.

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