Private funding of political parties must be revealed‚ ConCourt rules
The Constitutional Court confirmed in a ruling on Thursday that information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates should be made public.
Non-profit organisation My Vote Counts had earlier challenged the constitutional validity of parts of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA)‚ arguing that it did not provide for the disclosure of this information. The high court ruled in 2017 that certain parts of PAIA were unconstitutional.
In a majority judgment read on Thursday by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng‚ the Constitutional Court confirmed that the state was obliged to do everything reasonably possible to give practical and meaningful expression to the right of access to information and the right to vote.
The apex court found that the obligation to record‚ preserve and make private funding information accessible to voters was so important that it should be easily accessible to the media‚ NGOs‚ academia and other political players.
It also held that the disclosure of private funding would help the public to detect whose favours political players were likely to return‚ once elected into public office.
“For every citizen to be truly free to make a political choice‚ including which party to join and which not to vote for or which political cause to campaign for or support‚ access to relevant or empowering information must be facilitated‚” the judgment read.
“Not only must the information be ‘held’ in one form or another‚ it must also be reasonably accessible to potential voters. They need it to be able to make a quality decision to vote for a particular political party or independent candidate.”
The court ordered Parliament to amend the act and take any measures it deemed appropriate to provide for records of private funding of political parties to be kept and made accessible.