ANC supporters during an election campaign this year. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
ANC supporters during an election campaign this year. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Court rules funding of internal political campaigns must be disclosed

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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POLITICIANS serving in government will be forced to disclose the funding they receive when they are running for positions in their parties; however this will not apply to the CR17 bank statements.

The full bench of the North Gauteng High Court – Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Judges Keoagile Matojane and Raylene Keightley – on Thursday ruled in favour of the AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism in its conditional application to have the constitutional validity of the Executive Ethics Code.

”It is declared that the Executive Ethics Code, published under Proclamation no. R. 41 of 2000, is unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid insofar as it does not require the disclosure by members who are subject to the code of donations made to campaigns for their elections to positions within political parties,” reads the judgment.

The judges suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months to allow for the defect to be remedied.

However, the declaration of invalidity will have no retrospective effect, meaning it will not apply to past donations received by politicians including the CR17 bank statements showing the funders of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC leader in 2017.

AmaBhungane’s conditional application challenged whether the code required members of the executive to make disclosure of donations given to internal party-political campaigns.

”AmaBhungane’s constitutional challenge to the code is a principled one: It is premised on the question of whether, on a proper interpretation of the code, any member is required to make disclosure of funding received in support of any campaign by him or her to be elected to hold office within the political party of which she or he is a member,” the judges stated.

They said they accepted that disclosure by government office bearers including members of the executive of funding in support of their private (i.e. intra-party) political campaigns is constitutionally required to protect fundamental rights and that the state is bound to adopt measures to respect, promote and fulfil these rights.

”The Constitution requires a code of ethics as one of those measures, and the Executive Members’ Ethics Act is the legal foundation for that code,” the judges added.

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