File picture: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg
File picture: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Political parties bankrolled handsomely ahead of the local government elections

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 10, 2021

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Johannesburg - Political parties are attracting big pockets in a bid to clinch victory in this year’s local government elections.

But others are seemingly refusing to detail who their blessers are with up to 502 parties mum on who is bankrolling them.

On Thursday, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) revealed that the ANC, in line with the requirements of the Political Party Funding Act, declared that it had received individual donations amounting to R10 million, while the DA declared R15 million and ActionSA R3 million.

The ruling party received significant donations since April this year with the largest individual sum coming from United Manganese of Kalahari - the fourth largest producer of Manganese in SA. The company is part-owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.

This privately owned company dropped a mammoth R5 million into the ANC’s coffers followed by Majestic Silver Trading Company that donated R2.5 million in May. Nonkwelo Investments made a R2 million donation in April.

Two individuals, Mr L Sibiya and Cedric Ntombela made their own donations to the ANC amounting to R620 000 and R500 000, respectively.

Tyeks Security donated R100 000 in April.

The DA’s majority of the funding came from one Mary Slack who dished out a whopping R15 million to the party.

More prominently known as Mary Oppenheimer-Slack, she runs the family’s memorial trust and is one of the co-founders of Wiphold - the first female-controlled company to list on the JSE.

Jacques Plaut, a fund manager at Allan Gray made a donation of R100 000 while the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom made two donations. They donated R200 177 in May and R299 418 in June this year. The foundation offers political education in Germany and abroad.

The DA also received funding from the Danish Liberal Democracy Programme to the amount of R184 156.

The Danish Liberal Democracy programme was established by the liberal party of Denmark, Venstre, with the aim to promote democracy in developing countries such as Kenya and South Africa.

Newly-formed party led by former Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, ActionSA kept up with the big parties.

Durban-born businessman Martin Moshal made the biggest contribution to the new kid on the block with R2.5 million directly into its coffers in June. Moshal is a venture capital investor and has been involved in several technology and real estate investments and start-ups.

Brahman Hills Proprietary donated R350 000 while Style Eyes of California and Black Like Me were the two companies that invested in kind to the party.

While the ANC has been facing financial challenges including its inability to pay salaries, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and spokesperson Pule Mabe did not respond to queries sent to them on other forms of fund-raising and how much their party would need to run an effective election campaign.

Equally, Action SA was mum on specifics on other forms of donations.

The revelations by the IEC on donor details came after it published its first quarterly report since the implementation of the Political Party Funding Act on April 1.

The IEC reported that in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year; the fund received a single contribution from a member of the public, named Paul Malcolm Graham.

He made a contribution of R2 000 and this remains the only contribution received.

The commission has since called on the South African public and corporates alike to open their purses and support the fund.

The IEC’s vice-chairperson Janet Love presented the quarterly and pointed out that the IEC was concerned about the lack of donations to the Multi-Party Democracy Fund but added that they believed part of the reason for the lack of support was “the lack of understanding on how the funds works or that the fund is even in existence”.

This new Multi-Party Democracy Fund can be used as an avenue for private donors who wish to donate toward political parties in general and not one individual party. Donors would be allowed to apply to the commission not to publicly disclose their identity.

Meanwhile, the IEC said it intends to investigate political parties that received substantial donations but did not declare it “only if complaints are brought” to the commission.

Political Bureau

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