ANC mandates MPs to start process to amend party funding law

22 February 2023 - 19:45
By Kgothatso Madisa
ANC treasurer-general Gwen Ramokgopa.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu ANC treasurer-general Gwen Ramokgopa.

The ANC has instructed its MPs to initiate the process of amending the law that governs how parties receive financial donations.

The party’s newly elected treasurer-general Gwen Ramokgopa told the national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Monday that the ANC caucus in parliament should immediately start amending the Political Party Funding Act.

This move comes exactly a year since the NEC approved the amendment to the law that has been blamed for the party’s financial woes.

At its NEC meeting in January last year, the NEC said the party wants the requirement to declare donations changed and the minimum amount that can be declared increased from R100,000 to R250,000 or R500,000.

The ANC also wants the ceiling of R15m a year a party can receive from a single donor pushed up to either R50m or R100m, or for the limit to be scrapped. The amounts parties can receive from foreign donors should also be increased.

The ANC wants the definition of donations to “explicitly exclude” dividends and investments of political parties.

This means donations from the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House, which donated R15m in 2021, would not be declared.

The ANC wants to change the law that has been in place for less than two years after being signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in January 2021 and implemented in April the same year.

An ANC national working committee report that was presented to the NEC on Monday says Ramokgopa had submitted proposals on how the law should be amended.

“It is recommended that the ANC caucus be mandated to initiate and process a resolution in terms of rule 119 of the rules of the National Assembly for the amendment of the regulations with regards to the thresholds and the limits relating to donations to political parties,” reads the NWC report, which TimesLIVE has seen.

The ANC believes it will have the support of other political parties represented in parliament to pass the amendment.

It was not immediately clear how the process would unfold, but NEC members Pule Mabe and Dakota Legoete previously told the Sunday Times they were confident they would be able to convince parties in parliament to support the amendments.

“We are taking it back to parliament for it to be amended. So far it’s not only us as the ANC who say the act must be amended; [it includes] the EFF, DA and other parties. We are all affected,” said Legoete. “We want to amend it because the act should not be rigid, but let’s rather bring regulations to control activities of parties.”

Mabe said the ANC would be liquidating itself if it failed to challenge the act. The ANC needs at least R200m to settle its wage bill and other debts.

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“If you introduce new legislation and that legislation, instead of improving on your efficiencies ... become ... barriers on how you operate, a self-respecting political party ought to ask ‘can I go ahead with this?’” Mabe said.

“For instance, if you put a ceiling which is far lower than what the ANC requires to run its operation, you realise if you leave it like that you are self-liquidating.” 

Veteran ANC member Valli Moosa argued at the time that the thresholds were “extremely generous”, as the Zondo commission has shown how people can be bribed with as little as R100,000.

“So if you remove those, in effect you are repealing the law, that is what you are doing. You know when you take the life out of a piece of legislation it’s the same thing as repealing the law,” he said.

It was untenable for the ANC to seek to change laws to resolve its internal problems, he said.

“You can’t, every time you run into some or other difficulty within the party, change the constitutional order. That would not be the right way for us to be building a democracy.”