The annual R15 million threshold will be removed in the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has adopted the much-contested Electoral Matters Amendment Bill.

The bill was introduced by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in December 2023 in order to amend other existing laws, such as the Electronic Communications Act.

These consequential amendments are intended to bring the laws in line with the Electoral Amendment Act, which allows independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections.

The spotlight, however, has been on the Political Party Funding Act (PPFA) in particular.

ALSO READ: ‘R100K five years ago not same amount today: Motsoaledi proposes changes to party funding act

The PPFA requires that donations of R100,000 and upwards be disclosed by parties to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

The legislation, which came into effect on 1 April 2021, also limits the amount a party can receive from a single donor to R15 million annually.

Political parties that violate certain sections of the Act could receive hefty fines, ranging from R40,000 to R1 million.

The African National Congress (ANC) has already publicly stated it wants the PPFA to be changed so the current threshold can be increased.

Electoral Matters Amendment Bill clauses

In a meeting on Friday, the committee met to deliberate on the clauses of the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill before adopting the legislation.

The bill, in its current form, will empower the president to determine the upper limits of how much money political parties and independent candidates may accept as donations.

The law would also empower the president to determine the threshold at which parties and independent candidates should declare their donations.

Although it is important, the PPFA requires a National Assembly resolution for the president to change the donation limits or thresholds.

READ MORE: Amend poll Bill to be fairer, say civil groups

This provision in the new bill will remain as it is after the proposal for the president to consult with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the department’s minister was rejected.

“The clause is still correct when it says that when making a regulation, the president must take into account [the resolution of the National Assembly],” the Department of Home Affairs’ legal advisor, Advocate Phelelani Khumalo, told MPs on Friday.

Khumalo pointed out that the R15 million threshold will be removed in the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill.

“Now that it is no longer there then it means that there would be no limits. Political parties can receive donations in excess… so there will be nothing really regulating that particular space,” the legal advisor said.

Watch the meeting below:

Despite the removal of the annual threshold, there were still “safeguards” in the bill.

“All that [the new clause] says is that there will be a National Assembly resolution that will then happen, and after that, the president will determine the amounts… meaning that there will still be limits,” Khumalo explained.

Even the R100 000 donation disclosure limit was axed.

“All that it means in the new clause is that there will be passed by the National Assembly then the president following that will determine the disclosure threshold,” the advocate added.

RELATED: ANC could lose more donors if party funding act is amended

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Adrian Roos said he had a “challenge” with the threshold amendment and objected to the clause being included in the bill.

ANC MP Brandon Pillay, however, argued Khumalo’s explanation was “sufficient”.

Pillay was backed by his fellow party member, Moleboheng Modise-Mpya.

“Advocate Khumalo earlier clarified on the matters of concern, therefore, I wanted to say we move for the adoption of the amendment,” she said.

Electoral Matters Amendment Bill adopted

The bill was later adopted with the backing of the ANC.

Its latest amendments include providing political parties and independent candidates with the right to refuse donations.

The legislation will further preclude the IEC from accepting donations from the multi-party and independent democracy fund, in an instance, the commission believes the money are the proceeds of crime.

The adoption of the proposed law was not supported by the DA, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.

If passed, it will then go through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) before it is sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.

Electoral Matters Amendment Bill ‘an utter disgrace’

My Vote Counts (MVC) previously argued that the bill will make it easier for political parties and independent candidates to receive more money from donors, with less transparency.

The non-profit organisation (NPO) has taken Motsoaledi to court, seeking an order to declare the PPFA unconstitutional and invalid.

Their court papers were filed in May 2023.

READ MORE: Political party funding increase may be on the cards

Meanwhile, election expert Michael Atkins, who made submissions to the committee on 6 January, has also slammed the bill in its current form, saying concerns about the proposed legislation were ignored.

“The handling of the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill is an utter disgrace, and a travesty of correct procedure and the law.

“It reflects very badly on everyone who drove or co-operated with the process, including those bodies that did not point out the glaring legal failings,” Atkins said on X, formerly known as Twitter.


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