MVC has noted the Constitutional Court judgment with a measure of disappointment but remains resolute in its campaign to fight secrecy. Although the majority dismissed the application it provided a clear route forward.
All along it has been our contention that the Constitutional right of access to information and the right to vote place a duty on political parties to reveal their sources of funding. In addition, we argued 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).’, said Judith February, MVC’s campaign coordinator.
Parliament, in turn, argued 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 contended 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.
Today, the Constitution Court dismissed MVC’s application and ordered that MVC ought to have challenged the Constitutionality of PAIA given that it suggested there may be challenges in the manner in which PAIA is implemented. The minority judgment of Cameron J (supported by Moseneke DCJ, Froneman J and Jappie J) held that PAIA was not the only legislative vehicle for the right of access to information to be realised and that for the the right to vote and the right of access to information to be fully realised, citizens needed disclosure of political party donations. Parliament had therefore failed to fulfill its Constitutional obligations.
MVC calls on all political parties to not delay dealing with this matter and work together with all citizens and pass the appropriate legislation.