Bill sparks funding rumpus

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

University of KwaZulu-Natal political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu says the provincial government should proceed with caution in its bid to push for a bill that would allow for the funding of political parties from that province's coffers.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for finance and economic affairs Zweli Mkhize has proposed that seven political parties in the provincial legislature be funded with taxpayers' money.

But the Democratic Alliance swiftly objected to the move.

It questioned the legality of the matter. But Ndlovu said the DA's opposition to the proposed bill was "political expediency".

The bill aims to give an estimated R20million to the parties represented in the provincial legislature. They include the United Democratic Movement and the African Christian Democratic Party, the ANC, IFP, DA, Nadeco and the Minority Front.

Ndlovu said the funding would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

"The Bill would not benefit parties that are not currently in the legislature. I believe that is the major reason parties like the DA object to the bill. It's because it seeks to establish a coalition with the newly formed Congress of the People."

Ndlovu warned that if taxpayers' money was going to be dished out, anyone who started a political party could get cash.

"Political parties need 500 members to register at the independent electoral commission."

Mkhize said similar legislation was working well in Gauteng to the benefit of all parties.

The discussions raised affirmed that the strength and the vibrancy of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature was only as good and vibrant as the parties represented in it.

Currently there are two streams of public funding that are available to political parties: one through the IEC, the other through constituency allowances provided to parties represented in parliament.

DA caucus leader Roger Burrows said the bill had not complied with required procedure in terms of the rules of legislature.

There had been no calls for public comment or public hearings, he said.

Burrows warned that the political parties outside the legislature would not benefit from the funding.

The bulk of the funding would go to the strongest party in the legislature, thereby further strengthening its position, he said.