News & events


Global trends in political finance regulation and options for South Africa

28 April 2016
12:30 - 13:30

HSRC Seminar Series in collaboration with the Democracy Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)

Date:      28 April 2016 
Time:     12:30  – 13:30

Venue:    VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth


Gary Pienaar, Research Manager: DGSD

Prof Narnia Bohler-Muller, Executive Director: DGSD


Recent developments surrounding a prominent business family have again reminded South Africans that money can play a fundamental and influential role in our political system, as it does in all democracies. Political parties need to organise and reach their constituencies to consult them regarding proposed policies. However, not disclosing private donations can lead to corruption, cronyism and policy capture. But does disclosing donations necessarily increase public trust that public policy is directed at advancing the public interest? How can regulating political finance help ensure that public policy prioritises the pressing needs of the poor and marginalised, rather than the narrow interests of privileged elites?   

While South African political parties receive funding from the state and are obliged to account for their expenditure of these funds, there are no restrictions on private donations to parties. Political parties do not have to disclose their sources of private funds, nor are they subject to limits on donations or spending caps. South Africa is not alone in this regard. A recent Global Integrity Money, Politics and Transparency (MPT) report comparing political finance in more than 50 countries found that about half of political parties failed to regulate cash donations.

Gary Pienaar of the Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery Programme was the South Africa country researcher for the MPT. The MPT report is a result of consensus reached within the reform community on a set of global principles to guide fair, accountable and transparent political finance systems. What are those principles and what guidance do they offer for the challenges in South Africa’s political economy?

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 25 April 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004,  Fax (021) 461 0299, or or Estelle Krishnan or Tel: 021 4668070

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail;

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: