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Dali Mpofu on the stand representing the United Democratic Movement's secret ballot hearing at the Constitutional Court on Monday. Photo: Thomas Lethoba

The high court in the Western Cape has ruled that all political parties must fully disclose their private funders.

Judge Yasmin Meer declared that information about the private funding of political parties and independent ward candidates is reasonably required for the effective exercise of the right to vote in elections and to make political choices.

She also declared that the Promotion of Access to Information Act‚ 2 of 2000 (“PAIA”) is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid “insofar as it does not allow for the recordal and disclosure of private funding information”.

“The declaration of invalidity is suspended for 18 months in order to allow Parliament to remedy the defects in PAIA and to allow for the recordal and disclosure of private funding of political parties and independent candidates‚” Meer ruled.
She directed that the order be referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation within 15 days.

Meer made the ruling in an application by My Vote Counts‚ which had asked the court to declare that information on private political party funding should be made public.
In its application‚ My Vote Counts also challenged the constitutional validity of PAIA.

The application was opposed by the DA and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services.

The DA argued that the application was “defective as My Vote Counts had failed to join the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)‚ whose core responsibilities‚ the party submitted‚ include overseeing political parties‚ promoting research into electoral matters‚ reviewing electoral legislation and promoting voter education.

My Vote Counts‚ however argued that the IEC does not have a direct and substantial interest in the relief the organisation sought‚ which was directed against the unconstitutionality of PAIA in addressing the Section 32 right of access to information‚ read with sections 19‚ 7(2) and 1(d) of the Constitution.

 

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