Eustace Mashimbye, the chief executive of Proudly South African. Photo: Philippa Larkin
Eustace Mashimbye, the chief executive of Proudly South African. Photo: Philippa Larkin

SA political parties have a moral duty to prioritise buying local

By Opinion Time of article published Jun 2, 2021

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Eustace Mashimbye

WHILE most people are focused entirely on the manifesto promises being made by the many political parties that will be contesting local elections in October (and of course, we should know who and what we are voting for), at Proudly South African we will have an additional interest in the parties’ activities.

Elections represent millions of rand spent collectively on campaigns and rallies. Millions of rand spent on T-shirts, caps, other give-aways, gazebos, posters and pamphlets, among many other promotional, some might say propaganda, items.

Amid much controversy, a new Party Political Funding Act came into effect on April 1 this year, replacing the previous legislation of 1997. Whatever its merits, in a nutshell it regulates the three kinds of funding available to most recognised political parties.

Public funding is disbursed by the Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) to parties that hold office in national and provincial legislatures. The amounts are allocated on a twothirds proportional and one-third equitable basis.

The Multiparty Democratic Fund is a fund into which private companies or individuals who wish only to fund the political and democratic process, but no single specific party, can contribute. The disbursement formula is the same as that of the RPPF.

The third funding method is private donor funding, and this now comes with new terms and conditions designed to make the sources of funding more transparent.

Provided these rules are adhered to, we do not concern ourselves with who funds which party for what motive, but we do believe that the multiparty or public funding should come with local procurement stipulations for any materials purchased related to election campaigning.

Putting aside the many ideological differences on the political spectrum, it is impossible to imagine that any party would reject the need for a policy that promotes job creation and strategies that will put our economy back on track. Therefore, it is impossible to imagine that any party would object to having local content thresholds imposed on them for the procurement of their election paraphernalia, since buying local is recognised as a driver of job creation and economic growth.

Any party seeking political office on the back of claiming they can turn the tide on unemployment should be obligated to spend at least a proportion of their public or multiparty funding on locally manufactured goods and services. It would be hypocritical of parties to want to do anything different, and would make it difficult for voters to believe that they are putting South Africa first.

During the 2018 election cycle, we hosted a town hall debate in Cape Town as well as a panel discussion during our Buy Local Summit & Expo between a number of parties when we questioned their intentions regarding election spending. We also visited the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) Ops Centre post elections and went as far as to check labels in party officials’ T-shirts and track suits to find out which ones had been as good (or not!) as their word.

The responses across the board were varied, with some parties declining to commit to how or where they spent their money and others wholeheartedly agreeing that buying local was necessary.

We would say that when choosing where to place your X on election day on October 27, make sure you are supporting a party that has your best interests and those of the country at heart.

Simply put, a party that does not say one thing and do another. Buying local is not a political act, it’s an economic one with the potential to impact positively on the cycle of poverty and inequality that still persists in South Africa.

The unemployment and economic growth challenge is a war, as expressed by the talented songstress Kelly Khumalo in her song Empini loosely translated meaning “at war”) The most recent unemployment figures stand at a record high of 32.6 percent with women and the youth worst affected.

Things are bad, people are hopeless and we need the political parties to lead us in this cause. Buy local to create jobs and support a party that says and does the same.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites

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