The Democratic Alliance is opposed to this Bill. Firstly on constitutional grounds and secondly on the grounds that political parties Nationally already receive funds from the Independent Electoral Commission which formula takes into account the number of Provincial Representations.
The DA believes that public funding for political parties must be done at National Level so there is uniformity.
To that extent we fully supported the national legislation enacted in terms of the RSA Constitution, section 236 that
“To enhance multi-party democracy, national legislation must provide for the funding of political parties participating in national and provincial legislatures on an equitable and proportional basis.”
In common with all other political parties in this house the DA Nationally receives funding in terms of that Act, which funding includes taking full account of the number of members IN THIS HOUSE. The same is true of every political party here. Our parties are already receiving funds allocated proportional to the number of members we have here. Any additional or supplementary funding must, we believe, be done on terms of that national legislation and not in terms of a provincial Bill such as this.
Money that is allocated to each political party by the IEC takes into account the number of members that that party has in Provincial Legislatures – what this means is that we are now going to count members of Provincial Legislatures twice. In our view it is a case of double dipping.
It is our understanding that the National Constitution, Section 236 makes it clear that National Legislation must provide for the funding of political parties. It does not mandate Legislatures to do so.
This section of the constitution should not be confused with section 116 (2)(c) which states that the rules and orders of a Provincial Legislature must provide for financial and administrative assistance to each party represented in the Legislature in proportion to its representation, to enable the party and it’s Leader to perfrom their functions in the Legislature effectively.
It is our view then that funding for political parties for party political activity should be done through national legislation and not through Provincial Legislation as stated in the constitution.
It should be noted that the support of the Democratic Alliance for similar legislation in Gauteng (in 2007) was conditional. It is worth noting that such support came after the following unequivocal statement made by the Gauteng MEC Cachalia, after reservations had been expressed regarding its constitutionality,
“……perhaps in the light of these reservations I should clarify, after discussions with the Premier that it is the Premier’s intention to refer the Bill to the Constitutional Court for a declaratory order before making any decision with respect to his signing off of the Bill….”
The DA supported that Gauteng legislation on that condition – which to our knowledge was never submitted to the Constitutional Court. The DA has opposed this Legislation in the KwaZulu Natal Province and the Free State.
The Democratic Alliance believes that the debate on this Bill is premature without such a declaratory order having been obtained.
The other point which we wish to emphasise is that it is
preferable for party political funding to be dispenseD according to National norms and standards. In that way one gets consistency and the situation is not open to abuse by any Province..
We have clearly set out our position – which we believe is supported on good constitutional grounds.
This Province has a number of financial challenges and we do not believe that funding of party political activity should be a high priority. It is speculated that up to R11 million could be made available for party political funding in this financial year. We should rather focus the resources we have on dealing with the challenges that this Province faces.
We do not believe that we have the constitutional power to pass this legislation and will, accordingly, be opposing it.