IN THE SPOTLIGHT: THE ELECTORAL MATTERS AMENDMENT BILL

Passed by Parliament on 26 March 2024 and now waiting to be signed into law, the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill’s overarching objective is to align various pieces of legislation with provisions in the Electoral Amendment Act, 2023, enabling independent candidates to stand for election to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

The Bill’s most controversial amendment changes Schedule 2 of the Political Party Funding Act, 2018, which sets out its regulations. This is noting that, among other things, the Act established two funds:

  • the Represented Political Party Fund (for money appropriated by Parliament), and
  • the Multi-Party Democracy Fund (for money received from private sources).

The Electoral Matters Amendment Bill’s clause 29 changes the formula for allocating money from these funds to political parties and independents elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

As things now stand, Schedule 2 allocates two-thirds of the amount in each fund proportionally, and one third equitably.

Once the Bill is signed into law, the amended Schedule 2 will allocate 90% of the amount in each fund proportionally and 10% equitably.

This is perceived by several opposition parties to favour large parties at the expense of smaller ones – in their view flying in the face of Constitution section 236, in terms of which ‘equitable’ and ‘proportional’ are understood to point to the need for a formula that will ‘enhance multi-party democracy’.

Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) reports on meetings of the National Assembly and NCOP committees tasked with processing the Bill tend to suggest that its drafters experienced challenges in arriving at a formula that would cater equitably for the introduction of independent seats in each legislature.

For insight into the discussions that took place, readers are referred to a page on the PMG website dedicated to the Bill.

  • Bill’s ‘B’ version, now waiting to be signed into law
  • Political Party Funding Act, 2018 (in force from 1 April 2021)
  • PMG website page on the Bill

Published by SA Legal Academy Policy Watch

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