Edited by Jonathan Mendilow and Eric Phélippeau
Chapter 24: Party funding in South Africa
Universal suffrage and multiparty competitive elections are a relatively new phenomenon in South Africa, having emerged only after the country transformed from apartheid to democracy in 1994. Since then the country has experienced five electoral rounds held at the national, provincial and parliamentary levels. In the last national and provincial elections (2014), no less than 50 political parties registered and 29 actually joined the competition. This represents a significant growth in the number of system components, up from 7 parties that won National Assembly representation in 1994. Nevertheless, the party system is dominated by a single party, the African National Congress (ANC). As in other countries in Africa, such a setup leaves opposition parties little political capacity, magnified by self-fulfilling prophesies: because citizens view a vote for the opposition as wasted they refrain from voting for it, and the chances of opposition parties diminish yet further. For these reasons, adequate party funding is critical to the future of democracy. The chapter examines the political party funding regime in South Africa with particular emphasis on the 2014 Parliamentary elections. Four main aims underlie this effort: To identify sources of party funding in general and in the 2014 general elections in particular; to explain the legal provisions regulating political funding in South Africa; to examine the manner in which parties are actually funded, and the way in which parties exploit legal loopholes; to identify patterns of backsliding from the legal stipulations; and to consider how party funding relates to the consolidation of South African democracy.
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