Labor pledges to ban political donations to South African parties

All political donations from individuals, businesses and unions must be banned, opposition leader Peter Malinauskas has said, pledging to move towards abolishing the practice of national elections if he wins government in March .

In a speech to the Dunstan Foundation on Monday night, the Labor leader said if elected he would move towards abolishing campaign giving and fundraising, long overseen for the ALP by SA Progressive Business, which would be dissolved.

It is the first such move in South Africa since former Liberal leader Isobel Redmond sought to crack down on large donations to political parties – a push that ultimately failed to materialize.

Malinauskas’ decision would seek to go further – banning donations altogether – but he refrained from ensuring that the reform could be achieved, noting instead that “implementing such a change would present legal and political challenges. complex”.

Instead, he pledged to task the attorney general’s department “to undertake detailed analysis of the issues and provide policy advice”, with the solicitor general to “provide legal advice on potential legal challenges”. .

He said a Labor government would seek the support of the Liberals and minor parties “for such significant, long-term reform”, which he said would not see taxpayers scrambling further for public campaign finance. .

He suggested “one model would see political parties that receive public funding – as is currently the case – required to adhere to a ban on donations, similar to the existing campaign spending limits that apply.”

But he noted there would be complicated jurisdictional issues with state-based parties still being entitled to receive funding for federal campaigns and “political party administration.”

He said there were also questions about ‘what this means for individuals’ ability to self-fund their own campaign [and] how changes to donation laws operate in relation to new or smaller parties and independents”.

“The people have every confidence in the basic concept of giving everyone an equal voice and letting the majority decide,” Malinauskas’ speech said.

“Where they lack confidence more and more every year is in the idea that the public institutions where we all serve truly give everyone an equal voice… frankly, I can’t blame them.”

He said “if we can do one thing to improve public confidence in our public institutions, it is this – we should ban all election donations”.

“More private money for political party campaigns,” he said.

“Not business money. Not union money.

Although he did not set a deadline for a workable legislative solution, he said, “I want this state election to be the last state election where private money plays a role.”

Malinauskas is the former Secretary of State for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees union, the power base of the right-wing labor faction in South Africa and a major backer of the ALP.

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