/ 18 January 2019

Parties to fork out R200 000 to participate in 2019 national elections

(Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)
(Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

To participate in this year’s national election, parties will have to pay R200 000. They will also have to pay R45 000 for every province in which they wish to compete.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced in a statement on Friday that it had approved election deposits for the 2019 national and provincial elections.

The deposit amounts for this year’s elections are the same as in the 2014 national and provincial elections.

“The retention of the same deposits since 2014 means a significant reduction in the amount in real terms,” reads the commission’s statement. The commission’s final determination of the deposits followed the publication of the proposed amounts for public comment in October 2018.

A total of 14 submissions were received from political parties and other stakeholders, ranging between calls for an increase in the deposit amounts, retaining the proposed amounts and a decrease or scrapping of deposits.

In making a determination of the final deposit amounts, the commission considered all the submissions along with local and international practice.

“The practice of prescribing election deposits has been part of our electoral democratic reality in South Africa since 1994.”

In setting the amount, the commission sought to strike a judicious balance between an amount so high that it unfairly impairs the ability of potential electoral contestants and an amount so low that it fails to dissuade frivolous parties and results in a long, unwieldy and cluttered ballot paper.

In 2004 the amounts set were R150 000 for national elections and R30 000 for provincial elections. This was increased to R180 000 and R34 000 in 2009 and raised again to R200 000 and R45 000 in 2014.

Despite the increases in the deposit amounts, the number of parties contesting national and provincial elections has steadily risen over the past 20 years while the number of parties which have won seats in the National Assembly has remained relatively constant. Since the 1999 elections 13 parties have been represented in every National Assembly, except after the 2004 elections, when 12 parties were represented. 

Parties which fail to secure a seat in the National Assembly or provincial legislature forfeit their deposit to the National Revenue Fund.

The number of votes required to secure a seat in both the national and provincial legislatures depends on the turnout of the elections. In 2014 parties required 45 892 votes to be guaranteed a seat in the National Assembly and between 13 627 votes, as in the Northern Cape, and 59 219 votes, as in Gauteng, for a provincial seat.

Currently, 285 political parties are registered for national elections with the electoral commission and a further 36 applications are currently under consideration. Not all have paid however.

In order to contest the elections, political parties must be registered with the electoral commission, submit a list of candidates within the specified period on the election timetable and pay the relevant deposit within the specified period on the election timetable.

While there is no deadline for party registration for participation in an election, as with voter registration it is continuous, political parties which have not yet submitted a registration application to the IEC are unlikely to meet all the requirements for registration in time to contest this year’s elections. — News24