The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) on Thursday formalised the prices of contesting the 2019 elections: R200,000 to shoot for the National Assembly, and R45,000 to register for elections in any of the nine provinces.
That puts the total deposit required for a party that wants to contest every province at R605,000 – a hefty discount, in real terms, on the price of admission a decade ago.
During the 2009 elections the deposits required from each party were R180,000 for the national election and R40,000 for each provincial election, for a total of R540,000. Had those amounts kept track with inflation, the total deposit today would amount to a little over R900,000. Instead, the IEC has kept the amounts stable since they were last slightly upped in 2013 – as petrol, food, and other inflation ate into the value of money.
Depending on when exactly the deposits are paid, the effective real discount for parties will be around 33%.
A party that wins at least one seat in the National Assembly, or in the province contested, gets the relevant deposit back. But failure to do so is common. In the last, 2014 national and provincial elections, 16 parties failed to get into Parliament, and at least 12 failed in every province (with the outlier being the Western Cape, where 22 parties contested elections but failed to secure a single seat).
In total parties forfeited R8.28 million to the fiscus in this way.
By law the deposits can also be forfeited, "in the interest of a free and fair election" for any party that breaks the election rules, alongside other sanctions the IEC can impose.
In 2014 four parties, including the Dagga Party, were excluded from the elections after they failed to pay their deposits on time.
At least 47 new political parties have been registered recently, and many more are still in the process.
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