South Africa’s political parties are in the doghouse

 ·27 Mar 2024

South Africa’s Information Regulator has slammed political parties represented in Parliament for their failure to adhere to the requirements of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), a situation that undermines both transparency and accountability.

“None of the political parties represented in Parliament are compliant with PAIA,” said the chairperson of the regulator, Pansy Tlakula, at a media briefing on Tuesday (26 March).

This follows the regulator’s 108 PAIA assessments on public and private bodies, including political parties, universities, national and provincial government departments and JSE-listed companies.

PAIA aims to enforce the constitutional right to information access in South Africa.

The act allows everyone, including non-nationals, to obtain information from both public and private bodies to enhance transparency and accountability in all bodies, facilitate public engagement in decision-making, promote openness, and establish easy, quick, and affordable access to information mechanisms.

Political party findings

The Information Regulator assessed 14 political parties – 13 of which are represented in Parliament and 1 not, but has a presence in municipal councils nationally.

The parties assessed that are represented in Parliament are:

  • African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP);
  • African Independent Congress (AIC);
  • African National Congress (ANC);
  • African Transformation Movement (ATM);
  • Al Jama-ah;
  • Congress of the People (COPE);
  • Democratic Alliance (DA);
  • Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF);
  • Freedom Front Plus (FF+);
  • GOOD Party;
  • Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP);
  • National Freedom Party (NFP);
  • Pan African Congress of Azania (PAC);
  • United Democratic Movement (UDM).

The EFF was the only party to not make themselves available to the Information Regulator for PAIA assessment.

It was found that 54% of political parties represented in Parliament are “generally non-compliant with PAIA,” while 46% have “some level of compliance but need to improve in certain areas,” said Tlakula.

Chairperson of the Information Regulator (South Africa), Pansy Tlakula.

ActionSA is a political party that is not currently represented in Parliament, but it was assessed.

According to the regulator, only ActionSA, ANC, Al Jama-ah, DA, FF+, and GOOD had compiled a PAIA manual for assessment. 

However, the PAIA manuals compiled by the ANC, Al Jama-ah, DA, FF+, GOOD and UDM were “not according to requirements”.

Political parties assessed areas of compliance. Table: Information Regulator (South Africa)

ActionSA, ANC, DA, and the GOOD Party all created and kept records of donations exceeding the prescribed threshold (R100,000) made to the party and “the identity of the persons or entities who made such donations”.

According to the Political Party Funding Act, political parties must disclose all donations received above the threshold, whether in cash, kind or both, to the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) each quarter.

According to the donations that have been declared to the IEC, the following parties have disclosed donations for the 2023/24 financial year thus far:
  1. DA – R61,431,172
  2. ANC – R30,000,000
  3. ActionSA – R29,406,860
  4. Rise Mzansi – R16,744,186
  5. BOSA – R15,500,000
  6. PA – R7,321,380
  7. IFP – R303,515
  8. VF+ – R131,000

Read: Information regulator launches investigation into CIPC

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