My Vote Counts concerned by the large amount of political funding

SA aimed to be off the greylist by 2025
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Civil society organisation My Vote Counts has expressed concern over what it called the staggering political party funding figures released just over a week before the May 29th general elections.

According to the Electoral Commission’s latest Party Funding Disclosure Report, 13 political parties made donation declarations for 1- January to 31- March 2024, amounting to a record R172- million. This amount is higher than the total disclosed in all previous quarters and the combined disclosures of the last two financial years.

Robyn Pasensie is the Political Party Funding Researcher at My Vote Counts.

“The situation in South Africa, has been such that we have seen what happens when private interests are really able to infiltrate in our politics, where lots of money is actually moving in our politics and it sways the direction of political interests away from the public and rather in the direction of the moneyed individuals. That’s really the concern that we have, is that if this is a continuing trend and a trend to be, then what does it possibly mean about what the shape of our politics is going to look like in the future.”

Funds declared 

According to the IEC, this marks the first time such an amount has been raised in a single quarter.

“The cumulative declared quantum is a prodigious R172 069 959.39. This amount is both higher than all of the quarters previously reported on and the combined quarterly disclosures reported during each of the previous two (2021/22 and 2022/23) financial years,” said the Commission in a statement.

Up to 13 parties have formally declared their donations and these include Able Leadership, ActionSA, African National Congress (ANC), African Transformation Movement (ATM), Change Starts Now, Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Independent South African National Civic Organisation (ISANCO), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA), Rise Mzansi, United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Vryheidsfront Plus (VF Plus).

Out of the parties, the Democratic Alliance topped the donations list with just over R65 million donated by donors who include Naspers Limited, Jonathan Ernest Maximillan Oppenheimer and NF Oppenheimer.

Other significant donations to political parties came from Main Street 1564 (Pty) Ltd, Martin Moshal, Gap Infrastructure Corporation and African Rainbow Minerals Limited alongside Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited – two entities associated with businessman Patrice Motsepe, as well as Naspers Limited with an amount of R2 000 000.

Change Starts Now (CSN), which was only registered in February 2024, follows the DA with over R35 million in donations which were received from three separate donors namely Fynbos Ekwiteit (Pty) Ltd, Main Street 1564 and the Ball Family Trust.

The IFP garnered R20 million, and the ANC R16 million.

RizeMsansi followed behind with R15 million donations while ActionSA received over R10 million.

The EFF, UDM both received donations well over R2 million.

There are also two donations made by international entities.

The IEC indicates that one was an “in-kind donation” received by the DA.

The donation in question was made by Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) while another monetary donation received by the the DA comes from the Danish Liberal Democracy Programme (DLDP), which the IEC says was made towards the cost of a training programme titled “Ready to Govern Locally II.”

“All of the foreign donations complied with the legislative prescripts in that none of the donors exceeded the regulated R5 000 000 per foreign donor per party in a financial year, and the funds were utilised for purposes and functions regulated in law,” states the IEC.