Political parties will have to disclose donors from April, after Ramaphosa signs new law

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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  • The Political Party Funding Act of 2018 is aimed at regulating party funding.
  • It also compels them to disclose their donors and prohibits donations from foreign sources for campaigns.
  • The law will kick in before the next local government elections. 

Political parties will have to start declaring their sources of funding before the local government elections, scheduled to be held later this year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said in a statement that he had promulgated the Political Party Funding Act of 2018, and that it would come into effect on 1 April.

He called it a "historic development for transparency and accountability in South Africa".

Ramaphosa earlier came in for criticism for delaying the promulgation of the Act, which he signed almost two years ago already.

It will regulate public and private funding of political parties and establishes funds to provide political parties represented in Parliament and legislatures with funding to undertake their work, he said in a statement.

ALSO READ | IEC says its systems are ready for the Political Party Funding Act

It requires that donations be disclosed by parties and donors to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

Foreign governments or agencies, foreign persons or entities, organs of state or state-owned enterprises are no longer allowed to make donations to parties for campaigns.

Foreign entities could, however, still provide money for training, skills development or policy development.

Members of political parties are also prohibited from receiving donations for anything other than political party purposes.

Civil society organisations were critical about the time it took to promulgate this Act, and wrote to Ramaphosa about it at the end of last year.

He replied, promising to promulgate it before April.

The IEC has welcomed the coming into effect of the act, which it said will coincide with the start of a new financial year for the public sector and political parties.

“The implementation of the act is one of the most important and far-reaching enhancements to our electoral democracy in the past 25 years,” it said in a statement.

The IEC said it would next week publish the final regulations for the act “as part of the final phase of preparing for implementation”.

An official earlier told News24 the IEC was already putting in place tools to implemement the regulations.

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