CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA
My Vote Counts NPC v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others
Date of hearing: 10 February 2015
The following explanatory note is provided to assist the media in reporting this case and is not binding on the Constitutional Court or any member of the Court.
On Tuesday,10February 2015 at 10h00,the Constitutional Courtwill hear anapplication for direct access to determine whether Parliament has failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation to enact national legislation requiring political parties represented in Parliament to disclose the sources of their private funding.Currently, political parties are not obliged to disclose their sources before, during or after a general election.
The applicant is My Vote Counts NPC, a non-profit company which campaigns for a more inclusive, transparent and accountable political system in South Africa.Parliament, represented by the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, opposes the application.All political parties currently represented in Parliament are cited as respondents, but none of them opposes the application.
The parties agree that the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Constitutional Court to hear the application.
My Vote Countsargues that the constitutional right of access to informationand the right to vote,enshrined in the Bill of Rights,require systematic disclosure of private funding to political parties.It contends that citizens are entitled to access to information about private funding sources of political parties. It therefore claims that 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).More generally, My Vote Countsarguesthat the state must also respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to transparent and accountable governance.It also maintains that specific legislation requiring disclosure of political parties’ private funding will fulfil South Africa’s international law obligations.
Parliament argues that PAIA adequately and exhaustively covers the constitutional right of access to information.Therefore, disclosure of the private funding of political parties may be requested through this existing legislation. Further, Parliament contends that it has enacted several pieces of legislation that promote accountable and transparent governance. It therefore does not have an obligation to enact the specific legislation