Quarterly donations to South African political parties exceeded $6m, DA declares biggest chunk.
A Party Funding Declarations report published by South Africa’s Electoral Commission (IEC) last month has revealed that a total of $6,506,526 (R122,533,963.01) was declared by five of the country’s political parties for Quarter 4 of financial Year 2022/23.
The report shows a list of donations and contributions declared in line with the requirements of section 9(1) of the Political Party Funding Act, 6 of 2018 read with Regulation 7(1) which states that Parties must disclose all donations received above $5,277 (R100,000) whether in cash, kind or both to the Electoral Commission, each quarter.
Out of the $6,506,526 (R122,533,963.01) from private sources declared by the 5 political parties, 44% of the funds was accounted for by the Democratic Alliance (DA). The DA which is South Africa’s largest opposition party, received the most donations and contributions from private funding (accumulative contributions above and below the R100,000 threshold) totaling to $28,745,152 (R54,472,63.01).
For the donations above the threshold, the DA disclosed Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a German independent organisation that promotes liberal policy & politics around the world which donated $734,050 (R139,103.83) in kind, and Polyoak Packaging (PTY) Ltd which also donated $6,332 (R120,000).
The African National Congress (ANC) that has governed South Africa’s since 1994, declared $79,155 (R1,500,000) from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and $2,163,566 (R41,000,000) of accumulative donations.
ActionSA, a relatively new political party formed in 2020 declared a total of $19,683,173 (R3,730,000) of donations from three major donors who contributed above the R100,000 threshold required by the law. ACTION SA listed Dr. BB Mabizela, a former South African professional footballer, Chris Du Toit, commercial head of Tongaat Hulett Developments, and Martin Paul Moshal, a South African entrepreneur and philanthropist. With these major contributions and others, ActionSA cumulatively received $1,396,370 (R26,461,500) of monetary donations.
Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party declared receipt of (R352,600) followed by Patriotic Alliance that received (R247,000), the least in donations for the quarter reported.
Only 5 out of the 321 political parties registered at national level in South Africa declared their donations both monetary and in kind.
South Africa’s Political Party Funding Act (6 of 2018) came into operation on 1 April 2021 in response to growing public and political pressure for the introduction of a regulatory framework governing party funding. This included a number of legal challenges seeking to compel political parties to disclose their sources of funding by civil society organisations between 2016 and 2018.
One of the three key areas the Political Party Funding Act provides legislation for is the regulation of private funding (donations) to political parties, including requiring the disclosure of all donations above R100 000 ($5,277) by political parties and their donors. The law introduced a strict regulatory framework for the private funding of political parties imposing certain restrictions on the source, size, and use of donated funds by political parties. Below are the provisions from the said law:
Obligations of political parties
- Parties must disclose all donations received above R100 000 whether in cash, kind (e.g. transport, catering) or both to the Electoral Commission each quarter.
- The R100 000 is cumulative (multiple donations from the same entity are added together and must be declared immediately when the total value reaches R100k).
- Parties may not accept donations:
- Above R15 million per year from a single donor;
- From foreign governments and agencies (except for training and policy development)
- From any government department or state-owned entity.
- Parties must set up separate bank accounts for the deposit of all donations.
- Within the three (3) months of the financial year end all political parties must:
- prepare a statement showing all money received by the represented political party from the Funds during the previous financial year, the application of that money and the purposes for which the money has been applied;
- prepare a statement showing all donations and membership fees, and any levy imposed by the political party on its elected representatives during that financial year; and
- submit those statements and the books and records of account to an auditor appointed.
Obligations of donors
- Donors must disclose to the Electoral Commission all donations above R100 000 whether in cash, kind (e.g. transport, catering) or both within 30 days of making the donation.
- The R100 000 is cumulative per year (multiple donations from the same entity are added together and must be declared once the total value reaches R100 000).
- Each individual donor can only donate a maximum of R15m to a party in a single year.
The obligations of the Electoral Commission
- The IEC must monitor the declarations of donations above the R100000 by political parties and donors and publish these declarations quarterly on its website.
- The IEC must annually submit a report to Parliament containing extracts from the audited annual financial statements submitted by political parties.
- The IEC must ensure compliance by all political parties to their obligations in terms of the Political Party Funding Act.
- The IEC must administer the Represented Political Party Fund (RPPF) and the Multi-Party Democracy Fund (MPDF) and distribute these funds to parties represented in the national and provincial legislatures according to the ratio 33.3% equitable and 66.6% proportional.
- The IEC must promote the Multiparty Democracy Fund in a bid to raise funds for disbursement to political parties.
Secrets Known commends South Africa’s EC for developing an online reporting and disclosure database that the public can easily access and scrutinize the amounts of money received by political parties. This is a move towards fostering transparency and accountability in political party financing.