Idasa not to appeal party-funding judgement

The Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) will not appeal against the Cape High Court’s dismissal last month of Idasa’s application for political parties to disclose their funding sources.

At a press conference in Cape Town on Monday, Idasa analyst Richard Calland said his organisation will not be “pursuing the legal route any further at this point”.

“We have read carefully the judgement, and while we have some serious problems with some of the interpretative approaches taken by Judge [Ben] Griesel, it is a reasonable judgement,” he said.

Idasa’s decision mainly hinged “on the position offered to the court by the political parties, and by ... the African National Congress in particular”.

On April 20, Judge Griesel dismissed an Idasa application that sought to establish a principle that political parties are obliged—under the Promotion of Access to Information Act—to give details of substantial private donations they receive.

Parties named in the Idasa application were the ANC, Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party and New National Party.

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Calland said that in court, under oath, the ANC and other political parties had made it very clear “that they supported the principle of transparency, and intended to abide by the provisions ... of the Convention against Corruption of the African Union”.

Further, they had also committed to regulate private funding and have transparency, and that they “wished to see a parliamentary legislative route followed, and that is what they expect to happen next”.

“We listened very carefully ...
to what the ANC had to say ... and in a spirit of good faith and recognising the seriousness of what they said to the court, we believe they will now pursue the parliamentary route.”

Idasa believes there will now be legal reform, “sooner rather than later”, and looks forward to this process.

Calland said its legal costs in the matter was “in the region of R150 000”.

Responding to a question, Calland said it would be a mistake to say Idasa has full confidence in the ANC, “but we have good reason to believe the ANC is serious about what they said in court ... we see no reason not to take that position in good faith”.

“We believe they have listened carefully to the arguments in this case; we believe that they have listened to public opinion,” he said.

In a statement handed out at the briefing, Idasa said while the ball is now squarely in the ANC’s court to start the process of legal reform, it is incumbent on all political parties to advocate transparency and accountability in the area of private funding.—Sapa

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