SOUTH AFRICA (GA) A few weeks ago, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law a new bill that requires the government to financially support registered political parties and regulate the funding of political parties by outside forces. Parliament had approved the Bill in June 2018 but took no presidential action until February 2022.
According to the mechanics underlying the process, the Political Party Funding Bill will become the law of the land effective April 1, 2022. Analysts say the Bill enables South Africans to know who finances their respective political parties.
Generally, new or existing opposition political parties in Africa are disadvantaged when financing and campaigning against ruling political parties. Equally, the question of dark money in funding political groups, especially political parties across the board, has become a severe problem in several African nations. For example, according to reliable intelligence sources, South Africa’s Political Party Funding Bill would halt or prevent political parties from soliciting funds or accepting financing from dubious individuals and organizations engaged in money laundering and drug trafficking.
Throughout Africa, funding is crucial not only for the survival of political parties (especially those in the opposition) and their capacity to campaign for presidential and legislative elections. The lack thereof prevents good candidates and intellectually and experienced individuals from seeking political offices.
In the West, response to the South African Political Party Funding Bill has been positive, especially as the West is weary and seriously concerned about illicit financing and money laundering across Africa, especially in West Africa. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, and many other countries have laws that require political parties and groups to disclose who funds their activities. For example, the US bans foreign funding in their presidential and legislative elections. In ten of the largest democracies in the world, there are disclosure laws that address the sources of indirect financing.
Civil society and advocacy groups appear pleased with the concept of African governments being obligated to fund political parties across the board and require compulsory disclosure of funds by political groups. Disclosure of political party funding and African governments’ equal funding of registered political parties will bring more integrity to countries’ politics and electoral transparency.