Party funds not for playing politics - Phosa

2012-06-08 20:10
Public representatives must not use their budgets to influence politics and create factionalism, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa says. (File, Sapa)

Public representatives must not use their budgets to influence politics and create factionalism, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa says. (File, Sapa)

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Pretoria - Public representatives must not use their budgets to influence politics and create factionalism, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa said on Friday.

"If it is happening... that a minister, or a premier, or an MEC... uses the huge millions in their budget in a factional manner to play politics in our party.... we will frown upon that," Phosa told reporters in Pretoria.

"They must be sanctioned for that if it's factually proved," he added.

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.

The ANC must grow into a modern, professional party, he said.

"Because it's a ruling party it must set a moral standard, we will insist on that."

No-one occupying a public position should use their power, position or budget to influence politics or support factions within the ANC, he said.

Political parties needed funding to operate but money was dangerous and could lead to corruption and abuse.

"We should not have a situation where an individual... or a company is able to have too much undue influence on a political party or a political system."

He warned that if reforms were not made now, the corrupting effects of money would get worse.

"Soon the problem will escape beyond the possibility of meaningful control.

If this happens, we will regret our inaction today.

"Our democracy should not be available or sold to the highest bidder," he said.

The workshop participants had recommended a cap on private funding and perhaps foreign funding.

"There is room for private funding but it must be regulated. At the moment it is not."

Phosa said the ANC would not take money from criminals or tainted sources.

However, party members as citizens could do business with government and donate money to the ANC.

Phosa said the ANC's investment wing, Chancellor House - which benefited from a deal with parastatal Eskom - had come been mentioned at the workshop.

"The criticism is that it is involved in areas where there is conflict, [so] it benefits from the State," he said.

Participants resolved that the ANC should not be allowed to receive money from the State or parastatals.

The workshop considered four areas which needed to be transformed: the control of private donations; increased public funding; expenditure limits; and the introduction of greater transparency.

One of the recommendations to come out of the workshop was that taxpayers should help fund political parties in elections.

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

"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.

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 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.

Phosa said they would suggest that a multi-party committee in Parliament considers political funding and then make recommendations.

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