ConCourt Upholds Ruling Declaring Executive Ethics Code Illegal

The Constitutional Court (Concourt) has upheld a Gauteng High Court judgment that found legislation in the Executive Ethics Code was unconstitutional and invalid as it did not require members of the executive to disclose “donations made to campaigns for their election to positions within political parties”.

Beyond the obligation to declare any personal or private financial or business interests, executive members in South Africa will now have to disclose funds received for their internal party campaigns.

Handing down the unanimous judgment, Justice Steven Majiedt found the code “falls short of constitutional and statutory dictates of transparency, accountability, and openness”.

He added the current legislation around disclosures of donations for internal party elections undermined the Ethics Act and the conflict of interests regime essential to promoting “transparency and [dealing] with the pervasive corruption bedevilling” the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Majiedt stressed that “the need for transparency in campaign donations must be understood against the backdrop of and the context of the pressing need to curb and strive towards eradicating corruption”.

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The case is likely to have a bearing on donations to the campaigns of politicians seeking positions in their parties, especially the ANC leading up to its December elective conference.

The Constitutional Court judgment confirmed a ruling handed down by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in December last year.

It found the Executive Ethics Code, in its current state, was unconstitutional and invalid for not requiring members of the executive to disclose “donations made to campaigns for their election to positions within political parties”.

The High Court gave President Cyril Ramaphosa a year to remedy the defects in the code, which the Constitutional Court also upheld on Tuesday.

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