Timeline

While every effort has been made to include all relevant information, this timeline  should not be regarded as definitive.

10 November: Following My Vote Counts’ provision of further argumentation to the Constitutional Court, a hearing date is set for 10 February 2015.

9 October: Baleka Mbete, speaker of Parliament, responds to My Vote Counts’ application with an answering affidavit, which denies that political parties have any obligations towards the voting public. Read Mbete’s full answering affidavit here: http://http://198.252.106.87/~myvoteco/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/First-and-Second-Respondents-Answering-Affidavit-10102014.pdf.

16 July: My Vote Counts launches an application to the Constitutional Court.

My Vote Counts has lodged an application at the Constitutional Court on the 16 July 2014, for an order declaring that Parliament has failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation to enact national legislation to bring about transparency in the private funding of political parties. The application seeks a simple affirmation of a fundamental constitutional imperative: that citizens be able to access information that is required for the effective exercise of their right to vote.

12 June: Conflicting allegations that Ramphele fraudulently has direct access to party funds.

02 June: Free State High Court  orders the Moqhaka municipality to get back R400 000 it paid to political parties to fund their 2009 election campaigns.  R380 000 was given to the ANC, R70 000 to the DA, R20 000 to the APC and FF Plus each, and R10 000 to the ACDP.

30 May: Cape High Court orders ANC to repay 14million secret donation from Brett Kebble.  Read full judgement here: http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2014/80.html

22 May: MVC hosts Roundtable with Prof Jorgen Elkit and Ebrahim Fakir on the possibilities and challenges of electoral reform,  in Cape Town.

Roundtable

07 May: Fifth Democratic National and Provincial Elections. ANC wins a clear majority of 62%.

14 April: National Workshop organised by MVC and Awethu! Platform to discuss a way forward on party funding reform.

10 April: None of the approached political parties choose to disclose sources of funding.  Responses from political parties are available on our website.

31 March: Coalition of mass based and civil society organisation send letters to 14 political parties requesting they reveal source of private funding by the 10 April 2014.

27 March: Debate  hosted by Institute of Security Studies on Money and Politics, and secret funds for party campaigns.   Panel includes ANC Treasurer, Dr Zweli Mkhize, DA MP Lance Greyling, CASACS’s   Lawson Naidoo and MVC’s Greg Solik.    Attended by civil society orgs, interested individuals and media in Cape Town.

18 March: A second investigation into the R320-million procurement of offices by the Independent Electoral Commission finds chair, Pansy Tlakula, complicit in the award of an irregular tender to Abland property group ( a company in which she had business interests which were not disclosed), confirming August 2013 findings of the Public Prosecutor. Report finds tender process was not ‘ fair, equitable, transparent, competitive or cost effective’, and costing IEC 20million is mismanaged funds for the 10year lease.

01 March: ANC’s Chancellor House sells its 25% stake in Hitachi Power Africa, which had controversially benefitted from state-funded contracts.

February: Allegations that private donor, South African born billionaire, Nathan Kirsh, is behind failed DA/Agang merger.

2013

September: MVC meets with lawyers to look into possible
legal actions

25 August: Correspondence received from the Public Protector informing MVC that in her   opinion, the courts are best placed to deal with this issue, following   non-action by Parliament and the IEC

02 August:  MVC writes an Op-Ed in the Mail and Guardian summarising our activities and   the lack of response from government

27 June: We held a protest against secret party funding outside Parliament. We launched our online petition at http://www.myvotecounts.org.za/petition/

4 June: We sent a Letter of Demand Parliament, requesting them to publish and provide us with a copy of a timetable which sets out the requisite parliamentary processes which will be followed for the passage, within 18 months of the date of the letter, of legislation for the regulation and transparency of private funding of political parties. Alternatively, we have asked them to provide reasons justifying their decision not to implement party funding legislation. They have to respond by no later than 24 July 2013,

Should the above publication not take place by the said date, we will be left with no option, but to seek our remedies through the courts

May: GuptaGate: An official report finds the collusion of officials to be behind the irregularities around the landing of private aircraft at Waterkloof Air Base.  Report also reports identifies a ‘culture of undue influence, underpinned by poor ethical conduct’.

9 May: MVC staged a protest play at the World Economic Forum and around Green Market Square. It was a Gupta inspired wedding between Government and Big Business. Watch the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUNwUtfYwmk

2 May: Public meeting held in Johannesburg to discuss ideas for types of regulations and reform.

26 April: The IEC declined our invitation to take part in a debate . Letter from IEC 

25 February: An open campaign meeting was held in the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town. Local and national committee members were elected.

4 February: MVC received a Letter from IEC. The IEC informed us that it “has not taken a decision on whether or not to support legislation to regulate private and public funding of political parties.”

16 January: A formal letter sent to the IEC We requested that they take a position on the issue of party funding reform proposed by us.

14 January: We met with the IEC at their offices in Centurion. They were about to have a board meeting so they promised to discuss our campaign.

A public meeting was held in Johannesburg at the Sci-Bono Discovery Center. Local and national committee members were elected.

2012

10 December: MVC received a Letter from National Assembly stating that the matter is currently on the agenda for the Chief Whip’s Forum.

8 November: Wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament as well as all political parties requesting all entities to advise the campaign of the plans in respect of party funding reform;

15 August: Delegates to the People’s Parliament handed a memorandum to MPs making recommendations to National Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures on questions of representation, participation, oversight and engagement with civil society.

The memorandum observes that ‘there has been debate about whether the current electoral system should be replaced by a mixed system that encapsulates the benefits of both constituency-based and proportional representation systems’. Some participants in this meeting were members of My Vote Counts.

It requested political parties to prioritise the debate on the electoral system within their parliamentary caucuses and place the issue on the parliamentary agenda of 2013; and noted that, as per the IDASA judgment of 2005, ‘We believe that transparency and regulation of political party funding will strengthen accountability to citizens. We therefore request Parliament to initiate legislation towards this before its term ends in 2014.’

28 July: My Vote Counts is launched at a meeting at the District Six Museum in Cape Town.

7 June: ‘South Africa is moving into dangerous and challenging territory. The private funding of political parties is unregulated. Public funding is insufficient for the needs of our parties… Our democracy should not be available or sold to the highest bidder’, says ANC treasurer Matthews Phosa (Timeslive, 7 June).

15 March: Parliament’s Joint Rules Committee met to discuss the Independent Panel Assessment of Parliament. (What they concluded is unknown.)

2011

23 March: The Secretary to Parliament says in a meeting of the rules committee (?) that although the The Report of the Independent Panel Assessment of Parliament had not been debated, its recommendations were made and accepted at high levels of authority.

2010

According to the Daily Maverick (27 February 2012):

Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling wrote to World Bank president Robert Zoelick urging him to only grant the $3.8-billion loan Eskom had applied for on condition that the ANC disinvest from Hitachi Power Africa, which had been awarded the tender to build the Medupi and Kusile power stations. Despite ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa’s earlier promises, the ANC had not sold the 25% stake its secretive investment arm, Chancellor House, held in Hitachi. This created an obvious conflict of interest where the party that effectively awarded the R30-billion contract stood to reap as much as a R5-billion windfall from it with the World Bank’s help, Greyling argued. Still, the Medupi and Kusile loan deal went ahead without the conditions.

2009

28 August: ‘The biggest threat to our movement is the intersection between the business interests and holding of public office… Election to a position is seen to be an opportunity for wealth accumulation’, observes ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe  in ANC Today.

22 April: South Africa’s fourth democratic general election is won by the ANC, led by Jacob Zuma, with 279 seats.

13 January: The Report of the Independent Panel Assessment of Parliament is published, and adopted by Parliament. Once again, it recommends a mixed system:

It was noted that the party-list system tends to promote accountability of Members of Parliament to their political parties rather than to the electorate. The power of political parties to remove their members from Parliament also tends to discourage the expression of individual viewpoints as opposed to party political views. The Panel recognised that alternative electoral systems also have drawbacks. … The view of the Panel is that the current electoral system should be replaced by a mixed system which attempts to capture the benefits of both the constituency-based and proportional representation electoral systems.

2007

16-20 December: At the ANC’s Polokwane conference, the party decides against implementing the recommendations of the Electoral Task Team, saying that:

  • the mixed system would be too complex,
  • would reduce the chance of small parties securing seats,
  • ‘that in local elections where the representatives are much closer to the people, there are still complaints of distance and lack of accountability’,
  • that constituencies will be very large, that a mixed system ‘may be an appropriate model in a more homogenous society’,
  • that in ‘diverse and divided constituencies there is the danger that strong and well-resourced interest groups can become more influential than the democratic process itself’.

It argued that the current system is:

  • simple, practical and stable,
  • familiar to voters and
  • has allowed ‘for a greater degree of participation of women, people with disabilities and other targeted groups than any other system could’, and that
  • ‘Internal party democracy and the recognition that voters can “make or break” a party at elections goes a much longer way to achieve the objective of accountability.’

On the issue of MPs being more accountable to party leaders than to voters, it said:

The oft cited view that the current system lends itself to abuse by “party bosses” is ill-conceived. The very “party bosses” are elected through internal party processes that range from being democratic to being dictatorial. The choice of who party leaders are lies with those who are interested in the internal leadership contestations. This is the very stuff politics is made up of. If members of political parties get it wrong, the party will pay the price at the following national, provincial or municipal elections.

It concluded:

Our current system can best help us reach the true objectives of the [National Democratic Revolution] within the framework of our founding constitutional principles. The imperatives to retain the current electoral system remain and call upon us to improve our responsiveness to the electorate within the ANC.

March: The Democratic Alliance was forced to repay a R250,000 donation that it had received from corrupt businessman Brett Kebble.

2005

20 April: Judgment is handed down in the case brought by IDASA to the High Court, seeking to get all political parties to open their books for scrutiny under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. This action was opposed by ALL political parties.

The final judgment said IDASA had raised ‘matters of great public interest and concern’ and presented a ‘compelling case that private donations ought to be regulated by way of specific legislation in the interests of transparency’. But the court took the view that political parties are private entities.

IDASA said: ‘However, choosing to take a narrow view of the right to make political choices contained in section 19 of the Constitution, Judge Griesel concluded that citizens do not reasonably require information about private donations to political parties in order to exercise their right to free and fair elections.’

Griesel emphasised that his judgment did not mean ‘that political parties should not, as a matter of principle, be compelled to disclose details of private donations made to their coffers.’

2004

Oilgate: Following alleged corrupt dealings by ANC leaders with Iraqi oil-for-food programme, a R11 million donation to the ANC is linked to state-owned PetroSA and later returned under pressure.

14 April: The ANC wins 266 seats in the third democratic general election, led by Thabo Mbeki.

2003

January: The report of the Electoral Task Team is published. It notes that:

With very few exceptions a lack or perceived lack of accountability was identified [by those making submissions to, and participating in, the team] as a problem in the current system.

And concludes that:

The nub of the majority view is that it is worthwhile to make legislative provision for an electoral system that can evolve to a larger multi-member constituency system with a compensatory national list. In order to facilitate voter accessibility and responsiveness between voter and representative, multi-member constituencies with between 3 and 7 members in the National Assembly are envisaged. This would require approximately 69 multi-member constituencies to provide 300 representatives for the National Assembly with 100 representatives allocated from national lists to restore overall proportionality. Both the constituency and national lists would be closed.

2002

27-30 September: The ANC National Policy Conference at Ekurhuleni observed that:

The current electoral system contributes to nation building and the maintenance of stability by promoting inclusivity and national reconciliation; that the proportional representation system has facilitated representative institutions with a special focus on women, rural communities and other targeted groups such as people living with disabilities, the elderly, youth and that accountability is not dependent solely on an electoral system; That where people are not involved in the decisions that affect their lives, social policies and political interventions are less likely to succeed. Participatory democracy should therefore complement and enhance representative democracy. Therefore resolves on a Future electoral system: To retain the current system and to review the constituency work of its public representatives to enhance accountability.

26 March: The Electoral Task Team, led by Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, is appointed by the then Minister of Home Affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to lead the Electoral Task Team.

According to the ANC:

The ETT was tasked with establishing an electoral system for post 1999 provincial and national elections. This was necessary because the constitutional arrangements in the Constitution (1996) did not provide for an electoral system beyond the 1999 elections. This created a vacuum that had to be filled by national legislation within the constitutional framework. (‘Legislature and Governance for a National Democratic Society’, Polokwane, 30 March 2007)

22 March: The Cabinet ‘resolved on 20 March 2002 that an Electoral Task Team (ETT) should be established to “draft the new electoral legislation required by the Constitution”. It should “formulate the parameters of new electoral legislation and draft it in order to prepare for the scheduled National and Provincial elections of 2004 or any earlier election, should the need arise.’ (Report of the Electoral Task Team)

May: It’s revealed that the Democratic Alliance accepted funding from German financier Jurgen Harksen while he was a fugitive from justice seeking to avoid repatriation to Germany.

1999

The Arms Deal: this R30-R70 billion defense procurement programme is allegedly used by the ANC to raise multi-million rand donations from and secure shareholding in foreign recipients of state contracts. By 2012, the programme is estimated by the Institute of Security Studies to have cost South Africa a million lost jobs.

2 June: Second democratic general election. The ANC, led by Thabo Mbeki, wins 266 seats.

1998

The current (as of 2012) Electoral Act is passed (later amended in 2000 and 2003). It’s mostly the same as the interim Act used to define the 1994 election.

1997

4 February: Current South African Constitution takes effect.

1996

4 December: The South African Constitution is approved by South Africa’s first democratically elected Parliament. According to the Electoral Task Team, ‘it was decided in 1996 [that the Electoral Act] would apply only until the 1999 elections, after which an electoral system would be decided on by Parliament.’ (ETT, 4.2.3)

1994

27 April: South Africa’s first post-apartheid democratic elections are held under the interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 200 of 1993).