Patricia de Lille
Patricia de Lille

The voice of the voter remains marginalised

As we near the 2009 National Elections, South Africa once again finds itself in a position where the voice of the voter is marginalised because of the lack of regulations on political party funding. The impact of this on our democracy cannot and must not be underestimated.

And until the ANC and the DA get serious about supporting the Independent Democrats’ campaign for the regulation of political party funding, the privatisation of our democracy will continue and we will be plagued by funding scandal after funding scandal. The ANC and the DA must remember that when an individual or company buys influence with political parties, it marginalises the voice of the ordinary voter, in the process inflicting extensive damage on transparency and accountability, the cornerstones of any healthy democracy.

The list of scandals is endless. A Standard Bank non-executive director, former ANC NEC member Saki Macozoma, diverts R9 million from a BEE deal into a trust linked to the ANC front company Chancellor House, while the ANC’s Network Lounge puts politicians up for sale at two ANC conferences. Before that were the Oilgate saga, which injected R11 million into ANC coffers, and the Arms Deal, where, as a direct result of my role as the initial whistleblower, Schabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni were sent to hospital and jail respectively, and ANC President Jacob Zuma will stand trial later this year.

“I can now confirm that on the 29th of January 1999, [the ANC] received R500 000 from [German arms company] Thyssen-Krupp,” I told Parliament on 6 November last year. The initially up in arms ANC has been silent since the ID’s vindication, with the M&G revelation “that in a raid on the home of Christoph Hoenings, the top Thyssen executive involved in the South African bid, investigators discovered photocopies of three cheques for R500 000 each,” one of them for the ANC.

The ANC and DA’s acceptance of millions from Brett Kebble is another example of how, for as long as we remain without political party funding regulations, political parties will remain open to corruption.

And so the list goes on…

In response to a parliamentary question I asked last year, President Thabo Mbeki stated that political parties in Parliament should debate the issue of party funding and formulate legislation for the Executive to consider. Satisfied with this response, the Independent Democrats, through our Chief Whip, Lance Greyling, tabled a motion calling for the establishment of an ad–hoc multiparty committee to take up the debate. This motion later lapsed due to the fact that no time could be found on the parliamentary programme to debate political party funding. The ID once again submitted this motion on the second day of Parliament this year and has subsequently been informed that there will be no time to debate the motion until the end of June. It is crystal clear to the ID that the ANC, like the DA, is not serious about regulating political party funding. Neither do they appear to see the issue as being important enough to warrant a debate in Parliament.

The ID believes our democracy urgently needs to develop a proper party funding regime that enshrines the principles of accountability, transparency and equity we politicians so often talk about. The ID therefore reiterates its call for the ANC and the DA to give this issue the attention it deserves, so as to finally put the brakes on the privatisation of our democracy. We do not understand why they both talk about transparency, but when it comes to taking real action, they remain silent.

One thing is certain – that without the regulation of political party funding, scandals like these will continue to threaten our reputation as a democracy.