Political Party Funding VIII - National and Provincial Spending

As Parliament's Ad Hoc Committee on the Funding of Political Parties continues its work, it is crucial to scrutinise all forms of public funding. This brief looks at the allocation of funds by provincial legislatures and the problems that it currently poses.

 

Introduction

Much of the scrutiny surrounding political party funding focuses on the portion of funding controlled by the National Assembly.  But the majority, around 55%, of the public funding for political parties is allocated by provincial legislatures. Section 116 (2)(c) of the Constitution stipulates that provincial legislatures must provide financial assistance to each represented political party in order for them to be able to function effectively. Unlike the money allocated at national level, which is allocated both equitably to all represented parties and in proportion to each party’s share of representatives, provincial funding is entirely proportional to representation in the legislature.

Problems exist with provincial funding for three main reasons. The first of these is incomplete information, which limits the transparency of many of these transfers. The second is the lack of a regulatory framework resulting in a highly uneven distribution of funding across provinces. While the third is the disproportionate amount of funding channelled through provincial legislatures in comparison to the National Assembly.

Analysis

In their submission to Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on Political Party Funding, National Treasury complained that they struggle to access information relating to provincial expenditure on political party funding. While they were able to access total amounts spent, there was little information available on how it was allocated and for what parties used the allocations for. It is also not clear how much is allocated directly to political parties, and how much is allocated to allowances to permit Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) to carry out their duties as public servants. There is currently no national reporting requirement for disclosure.  Accordingly, there is a degree of uncertainty in some of the provincial estimates set out below.

The most recent audited expenditures are for the 2015/16 financial year.  Table 1 sets out the national allocations to the Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) and to Parliament to cover the expenses of MPs in the performance of the functions.

Table 1 - National Allocation 2015/16

 
       
 

RPPF

Parliament

Total

Funding

127 394 146

371 033 000

498 427 146

Per MP

318 485

927 583

1 246 068

 

Table 2 sets out provincial allocations in the same financial year.  The number of Members of Provincial Legislatures are reported, along with the National Treasury’s estimate of expenditures in their presentation to the Parliament Ad Hoc Committee on Political Party Funding on 1 September 2017.  From these estimates, an allocation per MPL is calculated.  The right hand column of Table 2 sets out the 2015/16 estimates of expenditure from provincial budgets.  In some provinces they are identical to the Treasury estimates.  In others, they are higher.  The discrepancies are an indicator of the information problem.

Table 2 - Provincial Allocations 2015/16

   
         

Provinces

MPLs

Allocations

Allocation

Facilities for

   

Treasury

per MPL

MPLs and

   

presentation

 

party support

       

Provincial

       

budgets

         

KwaZulu-Natal

80

30 000 000

375 000

30 000 000

North West

33

25 092 000

760 364

31 168 000

Western Cape

42

34 854 000

829 857

40 155 000

Northern Cape

30

33 782 000

1 126 067

39 162 000

Gauteng

73

97 911 000

1 341 247

97 911 000

Limpopo

49

85 613 000

1 747 204

93 743 000

Mpumalanga

30

58 493 000

1 949 767

58 493 000

Eastern Cape

63

123 652 000

1 962 730

136 004 000

Free State

30

59 586 000

1 986 200

62 232 000

 

       

Total

430

548 983 000

1 276 705

588 868 000

 

Figure 1 graphs the information in Tables 1 and 2.  It is based on the total national and provincial allocations.  It shows the discrepancies between provinces clearly.

 

The allocation per MPL is higher than the allocation per MP in five provinces.

Table 3 presents our best estimates of allocations directly to political parties. 

Table 3

 

 

 

 

Transfers directly to parties - 2015/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Province

Transfer

Part or all

Part or all of

Transfer per

 

 

of Treasury

facilities and

MPL

 

 

estimate

party support

 

 

 

 

provincial

 

 

 

 

budgets

 

 

 

 

 

 

North West

11 050 000

Part

Part

334 848

KwaZulu-Natal

30 000 000

All

All

375 000

Western Cape

34 854 000

All

Part

829 857

Gauteng

67 251 000

Part

Part

921 247

Northern Cape

27 786 000

Part

Part

926 200

Eastern Cape

98 272 000

Part

Part

1 559 873

Limpopo

85 613 000

All

Part

1 747 204

Mpumalanga

58 493 000

All

All

1 949 767

Free State

59 586 000

All

Part

1 986 200

         

Total

472 905 000

   

1 099 779

 

Figure 2 compares allocation directly to parties per MPL by province with allocation per MP to the RPPF.

 

Figure 2 shows that allocations directly to parties per MPL in all provinces are higher than the allocation per MP through the RPPF.  This accords with the National Treasury’s submission to the Parliamentary Committee on 1 September, which pointed to the imbalance between national and provincial allocations,    with provincial governments spending a larger overall amount on party funding.  The National Treasury representative argued that any increase in national funding should be accompanied by a decrease in provincial expenditures.

The second issue is the lack of uniformity between provinces. The largest total allocated per MPL was greatest in the Free State at R 1 986 200, and the smallest allocation per MPL was in KwaZulu-Natal, which spent only R 375 000.

Conclusion

Provincial funding is allocated to political parties according to the Constitutional requirement in section 116 (2)(c).  But the lack of appropriate regulation has led to imbalances, both between the national and provincial level, as well as between the provinces themselves.   Additionally, reporting does not distinguish adequately between (a) transfers to political parties (b) allowances for expenses  by MPLs in performance of their functions, for which financial claims can be made and or (c) provision in kind to MPLs. The current position is unsatisfactory and the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee should give attention to the ways in which it can be improved.

 

Rafael Friedman

Researcher

rafael@hsf.org.za