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Party funding fail

This is the first election since the Political Funding Act of 2018 came into effect. We are pretty excited about this, because it will force parties to declare any funder amounts of more than R100 000, ushering in a new era of accountability. Or so we hoped. Last week Thursday the IEC released its first quarterly report on party funding. Turns out just THREE of the 504 parties registered with the IEC revealed their funders: The DA, ANC and Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA – with a combined amount of just more than R30m. The others said they didn’t have any. The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa hilariously said this was probably a weakness of his party – its failure to raise money. Given his anti-corruption crusading we’re inclined to believe him but we’re not convinced about the EFF claiming they received NO donations over R100K. 😳

According to Malema, no one had given his party a donation of more than R100 000. Given the detailed allegations of stolen VBS Mutual Bank money finding its way to EFF-linked interests, we find that hard to believe. 

In terms of the declarations that were made, the DA said it had gathered R16m, R15m of which came from a single donor, Mary Slack, daughter of the late Harry Oppenheimer. She acknowledged donating R15m to the DA, and said she felt the transparency “will be a deterrent for many … a lot of parties haven’t declared anything [because of this]”.

The ANC’s treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, also claimed that because of the new rules “we are now experiencing a situation where a lot of companies are very reluctant to donate”. 

But as Business Day put it: “The bottom line is, as awkward as transparency may be for potential donors, this is a necessary consequence of democracy — and in a country as savaged by corruption as SA has been, the more sunshine that falls on the nexus between funders and political decision-making, the better for everyone.” 

Hear hear. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap,16 September 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.

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