Political parties received R46 million in donations between Oct and Dec 2021 : Electoral Commission

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Political parties have received a total of R46 million in donations between October and December last year. This was revealed by the Electoral Commission in its third quarterly Party Funding Disclosure Report released this week.

Eleven political parties disclosed donations above R100 000 for the term, as required by the 2018 Political Party Funding Act.  The EFF has for the first time disclosed its funders, having in the prior two quarters said they had nothing to declare above the minimum threshold.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Political Party Funding George Mahlangu says the Electoral Commission is happy that more political parties are complying with the Political Party Funding Act during the first year of its implementation.

“In Q1 we only had three political parties that declared, in Q2 we had six and now we have got 11. Now this 11 for us gives us hope that there is some element of some acceptance of the act and what is expected of the political parties that have received donations above the threshold.”

The African National Congress (ANC) was the biggest recipient of donations in the third quarter receiving a total amount of nearly R23 million from various funders.

Batho Batho, the Shell-linked company that is controversially attempting to conduct seismic exploration oil off the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast donated R15 million to the governing party, the single largest of all contributions in this quarter.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) came in second receiving R12.5 million from donors such as the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a German foundation, SA Breweries, and from individuals such as Nicholas Frank Oppenheimer.

Funding by foreign companies is allowed under the act, with ActionSA receiving R500 000 contribution from Germany’s political party foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

“All the foreign donations we have proof from the recipients that the money is used for the purpose that it is meant for. Foreign donations can only be used for three things; it is for training the staff of a political party, is for skills development, and policy development. It can’t be used for any other thing but those three. So, if it is a donation in kind, they do give us some proof that the international donor has either contributed training or they bought something on behalf of the political party,” says Mahlangu.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Political Party Funding George Mahlangu explains the act: 

A feature of the third quarter is the number of donors that contributed to several political parties represented and unrepresented in Parliament. Businessman Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals and Harmony Gold donated more than R13 million to five of the big political parties.

Others such as 3Sixty Health and SA Breweries also donated to a number of organisations.

“Some may donate out of generosity; some may donate because they feel that they have a social responsibility to do so. The difficulty with funding is that this is a free-will offering and some people or donors would have different reasons why they do so but in essence, different donors would have a social responsibility fund and in some instances, they might say let us donate to party A this time and in the future, we might donate to party B,” says Political Analyst Levy Ndou.

The Multiparty Fund, which seeks to collect money for political parties across the board for the purposes of promoting democracy, received just more than R5 million with the largest contributor being telecoms company Vodacom.

The EFF has for the first time since the disclosure process started, declared that it received just over R3 million. This is after the party was under suspicion for its failure to declare given what some perceived to be its seemly large budget for the local government elections in November last year.

Mahlangu says that going forward donors to political parties must try to disclose their donations more timeously.

“The late declarations that we have picked up are from the donors but the political parties have done what they are supposed to do and they have done so timeously. So, in cases like this, we are interacting with the political parties to get the details of the donors so we can interact with the donor that in future when they decide to donate to a political party, they should also put in their declaration timeously.”

The Patriotic Alliance, ActionSA, Shosholoza Progressive Party, and the Abantu Integrity Movement also received a minimum of R100 000 each.