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Today, ActionSA’s legal team will appear before the Western Cape High Court seeking to intervene, as a respondent, in the My Vote Counts litigation. This follows the announcement of our opposition to the My Vote Counts litigation by ActionSA in July this year.
My Vote Counts seeks to have certain provisions of the Political Party Funding Act declared unconstitutional, placing a disclosure limit of every donation of any size even below the current threshold and reducing the annual maximums an individual donor may donate. The effect of this application would be to make funding from South Africans more difficult than it already is.
My Vote Counts application is ill-considered because it entrenches a system of incumbency by established, older political parties in a country where such parties are in decline. It is evident by My Vote Counts failure to cite ActionSA that they have failed to consider the ramifications of their litigation on emerging parties in the South African political system.
The real-world experience of law-abiding parties like ActionSA is that South Africans who donate to our party do so from a love of their country and a desire to see change with many recognising ActionSA as the vehicle essential to the project of change in South Africa.
Many donors choose to donate below the R100 000 disclosure limit out of a real and justifiable fear of experiencing reprisal from the ANC or DA. Removing this disclosure threshold will dissuade many from contributing to new emerging parties like ActionSA and leave such parties to compete with established parties who, despite being in decline as South Africans reject them, continue to award themselves a fortune in taxpayer funding. This move to remove disclosure limits will also throttle crowd funding initiatives by requiring the collection of multiple datapoints on every donor even when donating micro donations that could not reasonably be considered a threat to buying influence in a political party.
ActionSA is not opposed to the principles of transparency behind disclosing party funding. As a party we have led the way in compliance while all other major parties in South Africa have serious allegations or findings against their compliance. Had MVC had the humility to accept the meeting with ActionSA they would have found an ally in ActionSA as it relates to what should have been the real battle from of party funding – compliance enforcement. In this regard ActionSA will propose, amongst other things, that:
- The IEC establish a compliance unit to investigate allegations of non-compliance and that the Electoral Court be mandated to hear cases.
- That viewing access is granted to all political party bank accounts so that disclosures are not made on the volition of the party in question.
- That party expense audits assess whether lavish election campaigns can plausibly be funded on the income being disclosed by parties.
As a consequence of My Vote Counts only citing political parties represented in Parliament and in the absence of consent from all parties to the litigation, ActionSA must approach the High Court and seek permission from the High Court in order for us to be added as a respondent and allow us to participate in the litigation.
In today’s application we only seek consent from the High Court to intervene and from here on out be cited as a respondent in the matter, once the High Court gives us permission to intervene ActionSA will file opposing papers in the main application, whereby we will argue that the threshold is constitutional and said argument will be argued at a future date to be determined.
ActionSA anticipates that our application today will succeed.
South Africans cannot be disenfranchised any further by an unelected no profit company clumsily litigating with the effect of defunding emerging political parties. Despite the myriad of reasons to vote, 26 million South Africans of voting age have opted out of voting precisely because established parties offer little inspiration for change.
ActionSA reiterates that it remains open to engage MVC should they wish to engage in the interests of a robust multi-party democracy functioning where the need for transparency can be balanced against a diverse offering of political choices to all South Africans.
Issued by ActionSA National Chairperson, Michael Beaumont