At the ANC’s 54th national elective conference in 2017, then treasurer- general, Zweli Mkhize presented that the party was in debt and would not afford to pay salaries if no donations were made.
Fast-forward to 2018, the ANC’s website was taken down because it couldn’t commit to payments and there were no funds for T-shirts, lunch packs and campaign material.
It is 2019 and I walk into the reception area at Luthuli House. There is a distinct lack of the flamboyant campaign sensation that’s become customary for the ANC.
I ask the security guard for the Department of Information and Publicity. He tells me the phones are down and the internet has been suspended. It was two weeks before the most contested election in South Africa, and the ANC had no money.
Two days later I heard that the Western Cape ANC had suspended its treasurer, Maurencia Gillion, for asking for a R1 million donation from Dr Survé - a donation the ANC asked for.
A faction of the ANC did not appreciate Dr Survé telling Jill Marcus that he was not made by monopoly capital.
Dr Survé is one of only two black billionaires in South Africa. The adamant stance that he was not made (wealthy) by the intrusive capture of monopoly business is a painful truth to some.
The reality in a country with a black majority, 25 years into democracy being referred to as the most unequal society in the world is a bitter pill to swallow. Dr Survé’s truths clearly riled up the economic cluster, in particular then deputy minister of finance Mondli Ngungubele.
The ANC didn’t return the donation they’d asked for. A faction of the party gave sound bytes to the media about the return of the money but no return was actually made. The ANC was not going to return the money, the party cannot afford to return a donation of R1m.
The secretary-general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, owes Dr Survé an apology.
The public protector’s finding against the ANC president is proof that there were significant clandestine offerings to Ramaphosa in his campaign to be the president of the ANC.
Dr Survé however was asked for a donation in a national election, a donation he made openly, to a province he lives in.
The ANC cannot do without benevolent party funding. It also cannot afford to lose the few who fund the party honestly.
The manner in which the ANC treated Dr Survé paints the picture of a party that spews out the honest and embraces the corrupt.
The public protector’s report found that Ramaphosa received more than R150m in donations for his campaign, misled Parliament, broke the executive ethics code and should be investigated for money laundering.
Ramaphosa is wealthy, it is the ANC that is broke. If the ANC wishes to maintain relationships with the few donors who still believe in the party, it must apologise to Dr Survé on how it treated the matter of the R1m donation.
In January Ramaphosa signed the Party Funding Bill and the ANC welcomed the move.
“We are encouraged that this law is a practical expression of the ANC’s unwavering commitment to the constitutional values of fairness, equity, accountability and transparency. We have no doubt that this law provides the country with an opportunity to deepen our democracy and usher in a new culture of transparent funding for political parties,” the ANC said.
Dr Survé’s donation was that appeal to transparency and democracy. I hope the ANC remembers this statement. If it does, Magashule needs to make that apology.
* Mahlangu is the Head of Politics at Independent Media.