Resolutions of the MultiParty Forum as presented at the meeting between the leaders of political parties and the Independent Electorial Commission 7 April 2008
1. Party funding
And whereas public funding can come from the taxpayer or from the private sources; the dependence of political parties' on private donors be reduced and hence the possibility of influence-peddling which puts democracy up for sale to the highest bidder;
Recognising that such funding should - in line with international benchmarks and experience, and the principles of good governance - be regulated by law;
2. The IEC's level of independence
And whereas such independence can be defined as:
And noting with trepidation that in South Africa both of the two abovementioned conditions for independence are not fully met;
Further noting that in 1993 the IEC commissioners were nominated by the African National Congress (ANC), the New National Party (NNP) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and that since then the political landscape has changed with new players arriving and the NNP disappearing, yet now the commissioners of the IEC are drawn almost exclusively from the ruling party or recycled from the 1993 era;
We resolve to review the IEC's governing act, as well as any other relevant attendant legislation, with a view to reshaping the institutional environment in which the IEC operates, to ensure that it is firstly totally independent from any Government department and reports directly and only to Parliament, and secondly to secure direct funding through Parliament for the IEC, to ensure that it is not beholden to a line function department who controls its access to financial resources.
We further resolve that the Commissioners must be appointed with the involvement of all political parties in a manner that is equitable and fair.
3. Decision making level of the Political Liaison Committee (PLC)
We resolve that we will agitate that the PLC should be given decision making powers
And whereas the free flow of news and information is the lifeblood of democracy;
And recognising the immense influence of the media to shape public opinion and be a catalyst for change or for stability;
Notes with concern that party political bias in the media could significantly affect the fairness of electoral processes, the accountability of elected public representatives and the general enthusiasm of the public to participate and contribute to democracy;
Further noting with concern in particular, the history of abuse of public broadcasting for political ends in this country by the previous regime, and the disturbing incidents such as blacklists that have raised its ugly head in recent years at the public broadcaster;
Acknowledging that the ruling party inordinately benefits from live coverage of its partisan events, above and beyond its preferential media access and exposure as Government, in total contrast to the length and quality of coverage provided to any other political party.
Further notes that history has shown time and again that moves to censor or hamstring the media is consistently the first steps of a slide into dictatorship, and should therefore be resisted at all costs.
We have noted in the past how the ruling party has gained unfair advantage because party messages were conveyed under the guise of government position/opinion.
We resolve that - distinguishing between public and private media;
Whereas the running of a modern democratic electoral process is a complicated matter, depending upon a wide range of variables and the assistance of a large group of people;
Recognising that the actual logistical implementation of the electoral process is particularly vulnerable to abuse;
And also recognising that the people who are appointed in critical positions in the electoral process may have party political loyalties that affect their performance, and/or may also be beholden for their employment to the continued electoral success of the ruling party;
Specifically noting that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliates, in particular South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) members, are employed as election staff and presiding officers whilst COSATU is openly campaigning for the ANC and is represented at national executive committee level in the ANC;
We resolve to revisit the relevant legislation with a view to tightening the prerequisites for appointment and the role of presiding officers, party agents and/or election staff, and that the political parties will approach the IEC with a view to ending the employment of politically-biased staff.
We resolve to request Government to make a clear public statement specifically committing itself to withdrawing and preventing any influence the NIA, and other security bodies, may have or may have had over any aspect of the management or logistics (especially the role of IT service providers) of the electoral process or the IEC as institution.
And further noting that almost all political parties have acknowledged the floor-crossing in it's current format - if not in general - is counter-productive, prone to abuse and disproportionately favouring the ruling party;
We resolve that we will support the process the Private Members Bills currently before Parliament and enact before the end of June 2008 legislation that scraps the current form of floor-crossing.
7. Creating an enabling environment of participatory democracy
Whereas participatory democracy means the open and equitable participation of all political parties in the overall political management of electoral and democratic processes;
And whereas South Africa is a plural society that specifically crafted its democratic Constitution around the concept of multi-party democracy to ensure that a wide range of views are expressed, heard and accommodated;
Recognises that more could be done to improve the level of participation of all political parties in the electoral and democratic processes;
Acknowledges that there is an equity disparity in the proportion of time and resources in the electoral and democratic processes in favour of the ruling party;
We resolve to
8. Intra- and Inter-party democracy
We resolve that multi-party forums (such as one hosted by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)) should serve as platforms to discuss the issue of intra- and inter-party democracy.