JOHANNESBURG, Feb 10 — South Africa’s Constitutional Court will hear Tuesday an application by a non-governmental organization (NGO) seeking to determine whether Parliament has failed in its constitutional obligation to get political parties to disclose the source of their private funding.
Currently, political parties are not obliged to disclose the sources of their funds.
The applicant in the matter, the NGO My Vote Counts NPC, is calling for a more inclusive, transparent and accountable political system. Forming the basis of their case is the constitutional right to access to information and the right to vote.
The group contends that citizens are entitled to access information about private funding to political parties and Parliament has a constitutional obligation to enact specific legislation to mandate this disclosure, in addition to the wide general provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
Parliament, represented by the Speaker of the National Assembly (lower house) and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (upper house), opposed the application.
It claims that the PAIA adequately and exhaustively covers the constitutional right of access to information and the disclosure of private funding of political parties may be requested through existing legislation.
It also plans to argue that it has enacted several pieces of legislation which promote accountable and transparent governance, therefore it has no obligation to enact the specific legislation sought by My Vote Counts.
All political parties currently represented in Parliament are cited as respondents, but none of them opposes the application. They have agreed that the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Constitutional Court.