JOHANNESBURG– Judgment has been reserved in the Constitutional Court here on whether political parties in South Africa must systematically make information of donations public.
A civil organization, My Vote Counts, had approached the country’s supreme court for a declaratory order upholding a High Court judgment that such information must be made available.
The High Court also found that the Act used to access information, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), is unconstitutional as it does not place an obligation on political parties to record and disclose funding information.
The job of the highest Court has been made a bit easier as Parliament has already drafted a Bill which obligates parties to disclose private funding.
My Vote Counts says all amounts must be disclosed, which is a deviation from the Bill before Parliament, which only requires disclosures of amounts of above 100,000 Rand (about 8,470 US dollars).
My Vote Counts says it is not arguing on the validity of the Bill, but says all amounts must be recorded and readily available even if only on party websites.
Counsel for My Vote Counts, Maz du Plessis, says: “There is a principle that all donations must be disclosed.”
Minister of Justice Michael Masutha is opposing the application.