The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Security and Justice met jointly to hear oral submissions on the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill (EMAB) from the African National Congress (ANC), the Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (CASAC), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the Institute of Inclusive Society Institute (ISI), My Vote Counts (MVC), Mr Michael Atkins, Dr Albertus Schoeman and the People’s Legal Centre (PLC). Officials from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) were present at the meeting.
All the presenters objected to a clause in the Bill which seeks to enable the President to set the limit on disclosure thresholds for donations to political parties and independent representatives. CASAC argued that such powers could lead to a scenario where the President sets the minimum disclosure threshold for donations high to effectively exempt most donations from being disclosed. It argued that Parliament should retain its power to determine when the regulations should be amended and the different thresholds adjusted.
MVC suggested that any limitation to the disclosure of private funding sources was unconstitutional in that it prohibited transparency and proper access to information. The ANC felt that the proposed allocation method would unfairly and disproportionately advantage independents and parties with only one representative. Instead, it recommended that each independent and party who wins a seat in Parliament get only a share of 0.25% per seat they occupy, of the available allocation of any funds.
Elections expert Michael Atkins gave a breakdown of what each represented political party would get under the proposed formula, noting that the ANC’s share would go from 43.38% to 53.92% and the Democratic Alliance from 18.32% to 20.09%, while those of smaller parties would decline.
Members were informed that responses to the submissions will be provided by the IEC and the DHA on Friday.
Members received an update on the Marriage Bill. They were advised that given the constitutional concerns raised by the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor and the limited time left before the end of the sixth administration, the PLS proposed that Parliament approach the Constitutional Court for an extension of the suspension of the order for at least 24 months until June 2026.
Earlier in the meeting, the Committee was advised by the Parliamentary Legal Services (PLS) to apply to the Constitutional Court (CC) for an extension of the suspension of the order for at least 24 months until June 2026. It further recommended that the Minister be invited to brief the Committee in February or March on the content of the Bill, and that a call for public comments be made.
Co-Chairperson Chabane welcomed all those who were present in the meeting. He noted the apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister, who were attending a Lekgotla.
Both Committees met to listen to public submissions on the EMAB, he said. Even though the department and IEC officials were present they would not provide immediate input on the submissions and would only do so on the ninth of this month.
While he was pleased with the IEC’s running of the weekend registration drive, he pointed out that there were challenges in the North West that had to be explained to the Committee at a separate meeting.
Also, he took exception to citizens who continued to cast aspersions on the integrity of the IEC. He called on them to approach Parliament or the requisite institutions with their allegations. Although it has not been perfect, the IEC has consistently performed well in the running of elections over the years.
Co-Chairperson Shaikh greeted all those who were present in the meeting.
Co-Chairperson Chabane asked if any apologies were recorded.
Mr Eddie Mathonsi (Portfolio Committee Secretary) mentioned that the Committee received apologies from Ms T Legwase, who would have to leave the meeting early, the Minister and Deputy Minister.
Mr Gurshwyn Dickson (Select Committee Secretary) forwarded the apology of Mr M Dangor MP.
Adv S Swart (ACDP) announced his presence at the meeting.
Co-Chairperson Chabane invited both the department and IEC to indicate which of its officials were present.
Mr Mosotho Moepya (Commissioner at the IEC) said that Commissioners Glen Mashinini, Janet Love and Nomsa Masuku were present.
Mr Tommy Makhode (Director-General of the DHA) mentioned that he was accompanied by officials from the Deputy Minister’s office.
Co-Chairperson Chabane then requested that the Parliamentary Legal Services (PLS) brief the Committee on the Wyngaard matter.
Briefing on the Constitutional Court Order on the Wyngaard matter
Ms Sueanne Isaac (Parliamentary Legal Advisor) mentioned that an application was brought by Mr Heindrich Wyngaard, and the Cape Forum, before the Constitutional Court, which argued that Parliament failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation, in terms of Section 127(2)(f), to pass legislation that would enable Premiers to call referenda. However, the matter was rejected by the CC, which concluded that it was not in the interest of justice to hear the application at this stage given Parliament was currently considering the EMAB, which “seeks to address Parliament’s alleged failure to enact legislation to regulate the calling and holding of provincial referenda.” The court noted that the applicants could seek relief if the Bill is not enacted within a reasonable time or in line with the Constitution.
Following the presentation Co-Chairperson Chabane requested that the PLS then brief the Committee on the Marriage Bill.
Briefing on the Marriage Bill
Mr Lonwabo Sopela (Parliamentary Legal Advisor) explained that the Marriage Bill was tabled and referred to the PC Home Affairs for processing to address the court judgement in Women’s Legal Centre Trust versus the President. The Bill seeks to appeal or amend 25 Acts, which relate to Muslim marriages, civil marriages, civil unions and customary marriages.
The CC’s order of invalidity was suspended, which lapses on 27 June 2024. Given the constitutional concerns raised by the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor and the limited time left before the end of the sixth administration, the PLS proposed that Parliament approach the CC for an extension of the suspension of the order for at least 24 months until June 2026. It further recommended that the Minister be invited to brief the Committee in February or March on the content of the Bill and that a call for public comments be published.
Co-Chairperson Chabane said that Members would be given the opportunity to discuss both the Bill and the Judgement in the next Committee meeting.
Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) highlighted that there is a prevalent issue of individuals using the birth certificates of others to obtain permanent residency in the country, enabling them to, among other things, get legally married. One such individual was recently arrested for such an offence. He asked how this matter would be resolved.
Co-Chairperson Chabane asked that the Member forward the case to the Committee Secretary so that the Committee could approach the department. In addition, he outlined that Members would be given the opportunity to further discuss the Bill on Friday.
Thereafter, he asked for the Committee Content Advisor to take Members through the summary of the submissions made to the EMAB.
Summary of the written submissions on the EMAB
Mr Adam Salmon (Committee Content Advisor) took the Committee through a summary of the written submissions.
Co-Chairperson Chabane stated that the summary was sent to Members earlier. Having said that, he outlined that each presenter would be given an allocated time of 15 minutes, after which Members could then pose questions.
ISI submission on the EMAB
Mr Daryl Swanepoel (CEO of the ISI) took the Committee through the ISI’s submission.
The organisation objected to the proposed amendment granting political parties control over disclosure thresholds and donation limits (Clause 26).
-Conflict of interest: The President (leader of a political party) and a Portfolio Committee comprised of parties deciding on their own rules creates an unfair advantage and undermines Bill's objectives.
-Uncertainty and potential legal challenges: subjective decision-making leaves room for manipulation and abuse.
-Preferred solution: Extend the mandate of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-bearers to cover these adjustments.
-Minimum amendments if the preferred solution is rejected:
- Include the Minister of Finance in the President's consultation process to consider fiscal implications of disclosure requirements.
- Require the President to consider objectively measurable norms and standards from other democracies in setting adjustments.
Ms Boikanyo Moloto (Political Systems Researcher at MVC) and Ms Robyn Pasensie (Political Party Funding Researcher at MVC) took the Committee through the submission.
-Section 1(a) of the PPFA defines a donation as including a “donation in kind” and does not include the membership fee of the political party or any levy imposed by the political party on its elected representatives. The amendment does not address the necessary inclusion of independent representatives and independent candidates as they can both be recipients of donations and donations in kind.
-Clause 9: Purposes for which money from Funds may be used stipulates how money contemplated in terms of Section 6(7) of the PPFA, may be used by an independent representative.
Recommendation: Remove the inclusion of “political party” in proposed amendment Clause 7(3)(d) and create a separate subsection or equivalent paragraph for litigation against the party. Section 7(2)(d) of the PPFA only refers to legal costs relating to internal political party disputes and makes no mention of litigation against the party.
-Clause 18: The proposed amendment of Section 12 of the PPFA seeks to ensure that independent representatives and independent candidates account for their income by requiring all registered political parties to deposit all donations received into a bank account in the name of the political party with no money being deposited into the personal bank account of any party member.
Recommendation: Given that the Bill does not differentiate between the personal bank account and the operational bank account of the independent candidate/representative, the proposed amendment of Section 19 of the PPFA of inserting subsection 4, is only applicable to political parties. To ensure that independent candidates and representatives are subject to the same transparency requirements as political parties, they should have separate bank accounts and should also be included in this subsection of the PPFA. Similarly, they should be included in subsection 5.
The insertion of Section 12A should be amended to ensure that the personal account of the independent be separate from the account used for donations to the independent. Furthermore, Section 12A should be amended to include both independent candidates and independent representatives, who as recipients of donations would both need to account for their income.
-Clause 26: Regulations amends Section 24 of the PPFA and seeks to provide guidelines for the President in the exercising of his/her discretion in amending the prescribed threshold and the upper limit. -Clause 29 (g) seeks to amend regulation 7(1) of Schedule 2. The Bill does not include some of the key factors which need to be considered in setting any upper limit: being the potential for the donation unduly to influence or to corrupt political discourse or state action.
-Any limitation to disclosure of private funding sources is unconstitutional in that it prohibits transparency and proper access to information necessary for the exercise of the right to make an informed political decision.
-Clause 26 as it stands allows the President the potential to increase this limit thereby increasing the potential for secrecy in funding and further preventing access to critical information for the public. In determining the threshold and upper limit the new amendments allow the President to do so after a Parliamentary resolution. Felt that the purpose and content of such a resolution are unclear.
-Took issue with the introduction of Clause 29 which amends Schedule 2 of the PPFA, which introduces the phrase “from time to time” in relation to changing disclosure and upper limits. Believes that the President should not be allowed to have extensive and/or significant powers to change the core provisions of the PPFA in the absence of rigorous independent oversight.
Argued that the Bill also does not grapple with the key underlying factors requiring limits on donations or any other issues raised in MVC's court papers.
-Clause 29 increases the proportionality of the allocation from 66.6% to 90% and decreases the equitable allocation from 33.3% to 10%. This is a significant shift in the allocation formula and takes it back to a greater disparity in public funding. The reconfiguration of the allocation formula is not a consequential amendment and therefore should not be included in the Bill.
-Clause 23: Funding of represented political parties by legislatures prohibits Parliament or any provincial legislature from funding a represented political party other than through stipulated legislation. Clause 23(2) stipulates the responsibilities of the accounting officers to report annually. Neither of these makes mention of independent representatives.
Recommendation: An amendment should be added to the Bill addressing this omission.
-Clause 31B: Unequal signature thresholds: Parties who are contesting for the first time will still be required to fulfil the 15% signature requirement while independent candidates are only required to obtain 1000 signatures per region.
Recommendation: Section 27(2) (b) must be amended prior to the 2024 elections in order to ensure that there is parity amongst the different categories so that elections that are constitutionally sound, are held.
Dr Albertus Schoeman Submission
Dr Albertus Schoeman (Consultant at the World Bank) took the Committee through his submission on the EMAB.
-Believes that the proposal to allow the President to merely consult the Portfolio Committee before making changes posed a conflict of interest as the President is a donor and is expected to regulate his own donations.
-Instead, he proposed that the Committee consider a moving scale approach to donation thresholds. One such example includes linking thresholds to the minimum wage or tying limits to the annual budget of the IEC, which would also allow for fluctuations based on the election cycle as the commission’s budget increases in an election year.
-Advocated for the introduction of a requirement for companies and trusts to disclose their beneficial ownership information when donating to a political party to improve transparency
-Moreover, that a framework to regulate public funding towards political parties be introduced
Following the presentations, Co-Chairperson Chabane opened the floor for discussion.
Mr A Roos (DA) felt that the presentations illustrated that more thought had to be applied to some of the clauses in the Bill to further enhance it, specifically regarding the impact of the PPFA.
Adv B Bongo (ANC) reminded Members that the PPFA was introduced to create transparency on party political funding. After a realisation that many of the donations were made by international donors to influence the decisions of parties, it was decided that the National Treasury should allocate money to the PPFA Fund, to create greater transparency and accountability.
Moreover, it was decided that the money should be allocated to political parties on a proportional basis. Applying this to independent candidates has proved challenging though, and as such, he felt that the proposed allocation of 90/10 was practical to implement for now until there was agreement amongst all stakeholders on the most suitable formula.
Unlike the MVC, he believed that Section 26 of the Bill was sufficient as it had set parameters on the President’s powers to determine the threshold and increase it, based on objective tests. Considering this, he felt that there was no need to create an independent institution. The President, after consultation with political parties, can set out the required regulations or threshold.
Section 29, he argued, was properly worded. What was necessary, he continued, was to understand the historical reasons for bringing the legislation into effect.
Mr Y Tetyana (EFF) highlighted the importance of legislation keeping with the changing socio-political dynamics in the country.
One issue he took with the PPFA was on Section 12, which outlines that even a political party that is newly represented in Parliament will have to submit its financial statements after two years, even prior to it being represented. He wondered how the Parliament would be able to hold these political parties to account immediately, as it would with the larger parties. Given his concern, he suggested that the Committee discuss the matter further.
Dr Swanepoel said that it was his understanding that the PPFA applied to all political parties, whether represented in Parliament or not.
He agreed with Adv Bongo’s objection to the establishment of a new independent body, as he believed that it would be too costly and require too much infrastructure. Instead, he recommended that Parliament consider proposing extending the work of another commission. Despite that, he maintained that Section 26 of the Bill should be amended to resolve the conflict of interest.
Ms Pasensie mentioned that the MVC was committed to making sure that political financing is robust and equitable for all the political players – including independent candidates – intending to contest an election. Furthermore, the organisation was concerned with ensuring that public funding is also done in a transparent manner, with the proper frameworks in place, similar to what is found with private funding under the PPFA.
Similar to Dr Swanepoel, the MVC believed that all registered political parties or independent candidates are subject to the provisions of the PPFA.
Dr Schoeman thanked the Members for the opportunity to present his submission, and he asked that they duly consider it during their deliberations.
Co-Chairperson Chabane thanked the presenters for their submissions and assured them that the Committee would consider their inputs in its deliberations going forward. Following that, he requested that Co-Chairperson Shaikh handle the rest of the proceedings.
Co-Chairperson Shaikh requested that the PLC, CASAC, and Mr Atkins make their submissions to the Committee.
Mr Andries Vermeulen (Attorney and Representative from the PLC) took the Committee through the PLC’s submission.
Main Focus: Ensuring transparency, fair treatment, and protection of campaigning rights for independent candidates and independent representatives within the existing party-based electoral system
-Argued that the Bill does not provide a clear definition on independent candidates and representatives
- That it does not account for the difference between registration and nomination on independent candidates and representatives. Called for the implementation of a formal registration and nomination process for both
-Advocated for disclosure thresholds to be removed entirely and for all donations to be disclosed
-Disagreed with the provision for the President to grant control over setting disclosure thresholds as it may lead to abuse and decrease transparency. Instead, suggested that the President be required to consult the IEC before setting a threshold
Mr Lawson Naidoo (Executive Secretary of CASAC) took the Committee through the submission.
Original Bill: Prohibits political parties and independent representatives from using allocated funds for personal use or litigation costs.
CASAC Position: Objects to including political parties, believing it unfairly restricts their ability to cover legal expenses. They suggest retaining the existing ban on internal party disputes and excluding parties from this clause.
Original Bill: Clause 19 (c) would insert a new section 13 (3) into the PPFA providing that where a vacancy occurs or in the case of the resignation of a member of a represented political party or an independent representative to whom money was allocated from the funds, the political party or independent representative must close its books and repay any unspent money within 21 days of the vacancy occurring.
CASAC Position: this amendment is impractical in respect of political parties. A resignation by a member of a political party or a vacancy in a seat previously held by that political party can easily be filled by that political party, unlike an independent candidate who cannot be replaced. Requiring political parties to close their books and repay allocated money every time a member resigns, or a vacancy occurs is burdensome and does not appear to serve any purpose. CASAC submits that the new section 13 (3) of the PPFA should apply only to independent representatives.
Original Bill: Only refers to Independent Candidates and excludes independent representatives from the Electoral Commission's investigative jurisdiction under section 14 of the PPFA.
CASAC Position: Calls for including independent representatives for consistency and to ensure equal oversight. The drafting of the clause is only one instance of the inconsistent use of ‘independent candidate/s’ and ‘independent representative/s’, both of which are defined terms, throughout the Bill. The Bill should be examined to ensure consistency.
Original Bill: Creates new criminal offences aimed at circumventing donation regulations. The Bill does not specify how donations are to be monitored and by whom.
CASAC Position: The Bill should instead seek to streamline and standardise the manner in which political parties receive donations, empower the Electoral Commission to monitor parties’ bank accounts, empower the Electoral Commission to refer any suspected breaches of the PPFA to the National Prosecuting Authority and allow for the sharing of financial information about political parties’ bank accounts held by the Financial Intelligence Centre with the Electoral Commission.
Original Bill: Grants the President significant discretion in determining regulations related to disclosure thresholds, donation limits, and foreign entity donations, removing parliamentary oversight. The proposed amendment of section 24(1)(a) of the PPFA would remove the requirement that the National Assembly resolve to instruct the President to issue regulations:
- prescribing the formula for the allocation of funds to represented political parties and independent candidates in terms of section 6(2) of the PPFA;
- prescribing what such funds may be used for by political parties in terms of section 7(2)(e) of the PPFA or independent representatives in terms of the proposed section 7(3);
- prescribing the annual upper limit for donations in terms of section 8(2) of the PPFA;
- prescribing the limit on donations from foreign entities in terms of section 8(5) of the PPFA; and
- prescribing the minimum threshold amount for the disclosure of donations in terms of section 9(1)(a) of the PPFA.
CASAC Position: Strongly opposes this clause, arguing it undermines parliamentary accountability and risks manipulation of thresholds and limits. They advocate for retaining full parliamentary control and delaying the clause until proper public participation in any such amendments. CASAC also urges the rejection of the proposed Clause 24 (5) which would render the current regulations contained in Schedule 2 of the PPFA transitional which would introduce unnecessary uncertainty into the regulation of the private funding of political parties and independent representatives.
Clause 29 Schedule 2:
Original Bill Regulation 2: Proposes changes to funding allocation formulas and regulations, increasing proportional allocation to 90% and reducing equitable allocation to 10%.
CASAC Position: Opposes these changes, fearing negative consequences for smaller parties and independent representatives who rely more on equitable allocation. They call for retaining the existing formula and rejecting the amendments.
Original Bill Regulation 7 & 9- Regulating Upper Limit and Disclosure threshold.
CASAC Position: For reasons set out in our submissions on clause 26, CASAC likewise submits that the proposed amendments to regulations 7 and 9 of Schedule 2 should be rejected.
In addition to the concerns raised on Schedule 2 regulation 2 above, the provisions of regulations 7 and 9 are irreconcilable with the provisions of clause 26 and since regulations may not contradict their enabling legislation, they would be invalid and ultra vires the PPFA once amended.
The proposed amendments to the regulations also make no mention of the consultation the President is required to have with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs, which is introduced by clause 26.
Mr Michael Atkins Submission
Mr Michael Atkins (Independent Consultant) took the Committee through his submission.
-This Bill was tabled very late in relation to the changes needed for the 2024 election.
- The Bill is being rushed through Parliament with unprecedented haste.
- The Bill includes controversial changes to the Political Party Funding Act that are not consequential to the inclusion of independent candidates by the Electoral Amendment Act of 2023.
-The President is given powers in relation to party funding that properly belong to Parliament, and that undermine the spirit and purpose of the Constitutional Court ruling in My Vote Counts (2018).
- Powers are granted to the President in respect of sections 8(2) and 8(5) of the PPFA in two different places, in ways that contradict one another.
- The allocation of the monies from the Political Representatives Fund and the MultiParty and Independents Democracy Fund (as they shall be named) is arbitrarily changed with the effect that the smallest parties are deprived of a substantial proportion of their income, and the largest party gains substantially.
-The definitions of “independent candidate” and “independent representative” are inconsistent, and vague at times, with unintended consequences.
-There are various other errors and omissions
Following the presentations Co-Chairperson Shaikh opened the floor for discussions.
Mr Roos asked the PLC if it believed that the supporters of independent candidates and representatives would be disadvantaged if they are not treated like political parties when running for seats in the legislature.
Adv Bongo asked if an independent candidate should incur individual costs where litigation arises out of issues relating to elections.
He agreed with the concerns raised relating to Section 236 1 (d) of the Constitution. The PPFA, he explained, derives its mandate from the Constitution, which requires funding to be proportional and equitable amongst parties. He wondered why the organisations took issue with the allocation of funding to parties as it will be done in a scientific manner.
Moreover, he took no issue with the provision in the legislation for the President to make a determination, as Parliament will still have input on the matter. Nevertheless, he encouraged all the relevant stakeholders to work together in implementing the legislation. If issues are identified along the way, then the legislation could be amended once more, he added.
Mr Vermeulen mentioned that there was not enough insight on the extent of money received from foreign donors by political parties. However, the PLC felt that independent candidates should be treated like a political party when running for a seat in the legislature. If it is characterised in this manner, then the right to association would permit their supporters to have benefits like political parties. However, he highlighted how this would look.
Regarding the question on the litigation funds, he indicated that the PLC was unsure of the purpose of the differential treatment between how independent candidates can apply money from the funds for litigation versus those for parties. All that was important, he stressed, was that there is equality.
Mr Naidoo, touching on Section 236 of the Constitution, said it refers specifically to public funding of political parties and that the formula of the allocation of the funds should be on an equitable and proportional basis. After the Act was passed it was decided that the allocation of the multi-party democracy fund would be done on the same basis as the representative political party fund.
He did not believe that the formula for allocating funds was done based on a scientific calculation, rather, it was a policy decision taken to change it from 90/10 to 2/3s and 1/3, in order to provide greater resourcing for smaller political parties at that point in time – independent candidates had not yet arisen when the Act was first passed. In an increasingly competitive electoral environment, the attempt to revert to a 90/10 split of the formula would be regressive because it would reduce the amount of funding provided both from the representative political parties act as well as the multi-party democracy fund to smaller parties and independent candidates.
CASAC believed that it was too early to change the formula until there was a greater opportunity for a review of the Act and also to get broader public participation and expert opinion on the matter.
Mr Atkins said it was correct that the proposed amendments to Section 24 of the Act did contain criteria, but they were not binding and included inflation. Furthermore, the President, in making those determinations, was not bound by the criteria. Also, the criteria relating to the costs of funding parties is not an objective basis. As a counter to this, the submission states that the discretion should be out of the hands of an individual entirely.
He thought that the changes should be removed from the Bill now and be considered at length in the seventh Parliament.
After the discussions Co-Chairperson Shaikh indicated that COSATU, Mr Zackie Achmat and the ANC would make their submissions to the Committee.
Mr Matthew Parks (COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator) took the Committee through the submission.
Support the provisions providing for:
-Elected independent representatives to be recognised and included alongside political parties in provisions providing for funding and accounting for funding.
-Prohibitions on donations emanating from the proceeds of crime.
-Criminalising donations in exchange for access to government tenders or other benefits.
-Funding for political parties and independent representatives based upon representation in Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures.
The funding formula continues to remain distorted by allocating 90% of funds based upon representation in Parliament or the Provincial Legislatures and 10% based on equity. This we believe undermines popular support and the principles of proportionality.
Amendment Clause 29 (2) (a) to replace 90% of funding with 100%.
The deletion of Clause 29 (2) (b) in its entirety from the Act itself.
Provisions exempting donations below a financial threshold are not to be disclosed. This will continue to provide space for those seeking to circumvent the transparency provisions of the Act, space to do so. This undermines the anti-corruption, transparency and accountability clauses that are at the heart of the Act.
Deletion of the threshold in Clause 9 (1) of the Act and Bill provides a financial threshold below which donations need not be disclosed.
Proportional versus Equitable Broadcasting
The Bill correctly includes independent candidates within existing legal provisions providing for political party broadcasting. These are appropriate.
COSATU is however concerned that the Bill fails to amend an existing flaw in these provisions which provide for equitable and not proportional principles in broadcasting for political parties and independent candidates.
It cannot be justified to treat all parties and candidates equally when the support they enjoy amongst society is not equal. It is also unjustifiable that a ruling party which will be the subject of attack by all parties is treated the same yet its electoral support is far greater than those of other parties and independent candidates.
The principles of proportionality premised upon representation in Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures for funding needs to be cascaded to provisions for broadcasting in clause 38 of the Bill and Section 57 (4) of the Act.
Zackie Achmat Submission
Mr Zackie Achmat (Activist and Independent Candidate) took the Committee through the submission.
Challenges faced by independent candidates in the upcoming 2024 election, based on their direct experience are:
Achmat argues against restrictions on the legal structure used by independent campaigns, emphasising the need for proper financial controls and operational capacity. His Non Profit Company NPC structure allows for a board, dedicated staff, and volunteer support, which would be impossible as a sole proprietorship which is suggested by the bank account of an Independent being required to be under their name.
The Bill lacks a clear definition of "independent candidate" and relies on an ambiguous "intention," and is dependent on nomination to proceed making it difficult to secure tax exemptions or formally participate in election processes.
Achmat supports full transparency and public disclosure of all campaign finances, but highlights the lack of a system for independent candidates to officially submit this information to the IEC.
The unclear definition of "independent candidate" creates practical challenges, as evidenced by Achmat's legal conflict with Cape Town regarding poster regulations in favour of Political Parties. A clear definition is crucial for ensuring equal treatment and resolving legal ambiguities.
Ms Beatie Hofmeyr (ANC Representative at the IEC Multi-Party Committee) took the Committee through the submission.
In general, the ANC supports the provisions of the bill except for”
Clause 6: The Formula for allocating Funds to Parties and Independents
Reasons for the proposal:
-Independents can only have one seat, making proportionality difficult with existing formulas.
-A 10%/90% split (fixed/proportional) would unfairly benefit independents and small parties.
-This formula is simple and transparent, and treats parties and independents equally
-Each party or independent with a seat receives 0.25% of available funds per seat.
-This avoids splitting the allocation into fixed and proportional portions, which could favour smaller parties disproportionately.
-It ensures both equity (equal per-seat allocation) and proportionality (larger parties get more total funding).
-The formula would apply to all public funding streams for representatives in Parliament and provincial legislatures.
-The amount per seat would be adjusted based on the total number of seats in each legislature.
Following the presentations, Co-Chairperson Shaikh opened the floor for discussions.
Mr Roos said that practical and important considerations were raised by the presenters, such as those around the proportion of political party funding. However, he remained unsure as to why the proposal to make changes to the percentages for independent candidates to contest elections, and how it was consequential. In his understanding, the Committee was meant to receive detailed submissions on proposed amendments so that it could apply its mind, particularly on how the PPFA has been funded from the point of view of donors and on transparency.
Adv Bongo shared Mr Roos’ sentiments and suggested that the Committee consider conducting a workshop on some of the matters raised by the presenters. There is an equitable and proportional way of distributing funding from the political party fund, he believed, which the presentation by the ANC had illustrated to Members.
Mr B Radebe (ANC, FS) was pleased with the details provided by Mr Achmat on the establishment of an independent candidate office and how much it has cost him. In addition, he supported the implementation of the simplest formula to calculate the allocation of seats in the National Assembly.
Mr R Badenhorst (DA, Western Cape) was surprised that the Bill had been delayed by the Cabinet for nearly two years, now the NA and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had to conduct joint sittings in a rushed manner. This was unfair to Members who had very little time to go through the presentations in time for the meeting.
Co-Chairperson Shaikh mentioned that this complaint was raised in a previous meeting between the two Committees.
Mr Parks highlighted that many of the concerns raised by stakeholders were not new, with some first mentioned in 2018. However, some of the matters will take some time to fully resolve.
COSATU, he pointed out, believed in applying the principle of proportionality between, for instance, a party with 10% of the vote to an independent candidate. Also, as these are public funds, no party or independent candidate should be entitled to it. If an independent candidate disagrees with this, then they can establish a political party.
COSATU also supported the call for all donations made to political parties and independents to be disclosed.
Mr Achmat stressed that the minor amendments that can be done within this short time frame should be completed, to allow independent candidates to compete on a level playing field.
Ms Hofmeyr explained that the formula changed dramatically because independent candidates have been permitted to contest elections. She underlined the importance of the Committee resolving the funding formula as these monies will be paid out to political parties and independents by June of this year.
No valid justification had been given on why independents or small parties should be treated more favourably than larger ones, with their MPs getting twice as much. She cautioned the Committee from implementing legislation that would make money an incentive for individuals to contest in elections for a seat in the legislature.
Co-Chairperson Shaikh thanked the presenters for their input and then handed it back to Co-Chairperson Chabane.
Co-Chairperson Chabane thanked both the Members, stakeholders and other officials for their input on the Bill. All the submissions made, both oral and written, during the public engagement process have been taken into consideration by the Committee, he highlighted. Responses to the submissions will be provided by the IEC and the DHA during the Friday meeting, he added.
Thereafter, he asked if there were any announcements.
Mr Mathonsi indicated that the meeting on Friday was set for 14:00.
The meeting was adjourned.
- ANC Presentation
- Parliament: Letter to Hon Chabane
- Zackie Achmat Presentation
- People’s Legal Centre NPC Comments
- Zackie Achmat Submissions
- Summary of Electoral Matters Bill Submissions
- Summary of Submissions Organised by Clause
- Dr Schoeman Submission
- ANC Submission
- Mr Atkins Submission
- People's Legal Centre Presentation
- MVC Submission
- MVC Presentation
- Mr Atkins Presentation
- ISI Submission
- ISI Presentation
- CASAC Submission
- Dr Schoeman Presentation
- COSATU Submission
- CLSO: Wyngaard Presentation
- CLSO: WCL T v President Presentation
- CASAC Presentation
- COSATU Presentation
Chabane, Mr MS
Shaikh, Ms S
Badenhorst, Mr F
Bongo, Adv BT
Dlamini, Ms M
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Hadebe, Mr N
Khanyile, Ms AT
Legwase, Ms TI
Maleka, Ms AD
Modise, Ms M
Molekwa, Ms MA
Motsamai, Mr K
Ndongeni, Ms N
Pillay, Mr KB
Ramolobeng, Ms A
Roos, Mr AC
Tetyana, Mr Y
van der Merwe, Ms LL
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