Violations of the Rule of Law undermine the Political Party Funding Bill

Author: Martin van Staden

Date: 13 June 2018

The Political Party Funding Bill appears to be well on its way to becoming law in South Africa. Its intention to shed light on the identity of those who fund political parties is noble, and arguably essential in a free and just society. But our legislators’ irresponsibility in their law-making stands to undermine these good intentions and lead to severe consequences for our democracy.

Very few people disagree with the fact that the taxpaying public has a right to know who funds political parties. Indeed, the maxim ‘nothing about us, without us’ and that the legitimacy of government depends upon the consent of the governed, both imply that those who seek to and who do rule over us must be completely transparent with us. Practically, we want to know who funds our political parties so that we know whether they are representing us, or representing other group interests that are not in the public interest.

Parliament’s conduct, however, will have an adverse impact on the bill. In an ideal society with a constitutional government, the bill will simply inform the public about who funds political parties. In our reality, however, the bill is likely to cause potential financiers of opposition parties to withhold their funds and to empower nefarious elements within government to take punitive action against those opposition funders who have not been scared into submission.

(Read the rest of the article at the Free Market Foundation…)

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Martin van Staden

Martin van Staden LL.M. (cum laude) (UP) is a Member of the Rule of Law Board of Advisors and of the Executive Committee of the Free Market Foundation. He is pursuing an LL.D. at the University of Pretoria.

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