Spread betting on the agenda for political parties…

The run-up to elections is when political parties need the most money, and the latest revelations about South African political funding suggest parties were hard at work on the phone just before local elections in November 2021.

The majority of donations to South African political parties in the third quarter of 2021/22 are recorded as having landed in October 2021, when cash-strapped parties were apparently making last-ditch financial appeals to donors to support their latest efforts the country.

That the total amounts disclosed were ultimately lower than those of the first quarter of the year may seem counter-intuitive from this point of view, but one of the reasons probably lies in the ceiling that the funding legislation imposes on donations to a party from a single source during the year. . The DA, for example, had already disclosed donations of R15 million from Oppenheimer’s daughter Mary Slack and billionaire tech entrepreneur Martin Moshal in the previous two quarters, meaning Slack and Moshal are not allowed to make further donations to the party until the next financier. year.

The ever-cash-strapped ANC, which continues to claim to be struggling to pay its employees, was again the party with the highest amount of donations – just over R56.1 million. This brings the total amount of donations disclosed by the ANC during the financial year to around R89.5 million.

Its closest rival in the donation stakes remains the DA, carrying just under R45.4m this quarter to take its cumulative donations to around R78.4m over the three quarters.

So far, this closely matches the patterns established by the first two rounds of disclosures released by the Electoral Commission (IEC). But this third set was noticeable for two new trends: the increase in the number of political parties declaring donations above the declarable threshold of R100,000 and the tendency for single donors to split the money between several parties.

The latter is certainly the most politically neutral way to express financial support, even if no donor has yet been registered as being willing to give large sums to everything parties represented in Parliament.

The most startling revelation in this regard was the revelation that the companies of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe donated to both the EFF and the Freedom Front Plus, which is perhaps the most emphatic display of impartiality. political imaginable – even though the EFF got about twice as much.

Motsepe, through the companies Harmony Gold Mining and African Rainbow Minerals, seems to have simply decided to allocate money on a sliding scale to the five largest parties: he also donated to the IFP, and a large sum (over R4.2 million) went to the DA. But the bulk of his largesse continues to go to the ANC, with a donation of 5.8 million rand to the ruling party.

In the previous two quarters, it was revealed that the majority of ANC funding came from just three sources: President Cyril Ramaphosa’s personal fortune, Motsepe, and the ANC’s investment vehicle, Chancellor House.

This time around, Chancellor House and Ramaphosa were nowhere to be found – but instead another ANC-linked trust stepped into the breach. Batho Batho, a trust set up 30 years ago by Nelson Mandela and other ANC veterans, made the largest donation this quarter: R15 million to the ANC.

Batho Batho holds a majority stake in Shell’s local BEE partner, Thebe Investment Corporation, which has resulted in conflict of interest charges due to Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s vocal support for Shell’s exploration activities in Southern Africa – although Thebe has already said it is not involved in Shell’s exploration arm.

The point remains, however, that the ANC appears to be significantly struggling to attract significant funding from outside its own inner circle: Motsepe is Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law; Chancellor House and Batho Batho are in fact financial vehicles of the ANC. Perhaps potential external donors fear that funds channeled to the ANC will inevitably be misappropriated.

This quarter, without donations directly linked to the ANC, the party would have raised less than 2 million rand. Seen in combination with the declining electoral fortunes of the ANC, this evident lack of confidence among the wealthy classes must be taken as a sign of the general decline of the party.

Media company Naspers delivered on its 2021 pledge to provide equal financial support to the DA and ANC through a R1 million donation to the ANC; the DA got his turn last quarter. The ANC’s only remaining donor was 3Sixty Health, a health trustee founded by Dr Nthato Motlana, which followed Motsepe’s betting spread approach on a much smaller scale and donated money to the ANC, the African Transformation Movement, the EFF, Good and the Patriotic Alliance. .

This is the first quarter in which the EFF has made financial disclosures, despite widespread skepticism – given the party’s elaborate 2021 election campaign – that the fighters could indeed have received no donations at all. above the R100,000 threshold previously.

What we learned: The EFF is not above taking money from White Monopoly Capital, as its R100,000 donation from South African Breweries suggests, or private mining companies like Motsepe despite his declared passion for the nationalization of the mines.

The EFF also revealed a R100,000 donation from a “Mr SN Maseko”. It seems likely to be Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko, who was guest of honor at an EFF gala dinner in 2019 and who was accused by the unions of having ANC and EFF politicians “in his pocket”, in part by allegedly gifting them with mobile phones.

This is also the first quarter in which the Freedom Front Plus has made financial disclosures, which also prompted skeptical murmurs, given the perception in some quarters that the party is awash with money from Stellenbosch. To date, however, the only leaked donation from the FF Plus is from a black donor: the roughly R485,000 he received from Motsepe this quarter.

Stellenbosch’s real money still appears to be funneling to the DA, which received its biggest donation this quarter (R5.1m) from a Stellenbosch private equity firm linked to Capitec’s Michiel le Roux.

The DA is clearly the party of choice for wealthy white businessmen: in addition to Le Roux’s donation, it received money from a trust aligned with Firstrand founder GT Ferreira; property tycoon Charles Liasides; Coronation chief investment officer Karl Leinberger and – in the first leaked donation to a South African political party by a local sports hero – former racing champion Jody Scheckter.

Herman Mashaba, director of Action SA. (Photo: Gallo Pictures / Sharon Seretlo)

It was the leanest quarter yet for Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA, which cannot be attributed to post-election party leadership turmoil as his monetary donations were made ahead of local elections.

ActionSA’s biggest statement this quarter was an ‘in-kind’ donation of R4.2 million from a company called Pty Props SA. Michael Beaumont from the party said Daily Maverick it was to distribute personal protective equipment to “organizations in need” during the Omicron wave.

ActionSA and the DA have also benefited from in-kind and financial donations from the German organizations Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation respectively. The IEC pointed out that both contributions were permitted in terms of regulations governing foreign funding, but it is interesting, regardless, to see which local political parties foreign donors consider worthy of support.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation could not respond Daily Maverickbut local Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung project manager Christiaan Endres said Daily Maverick that its in-kind donation to ActionSA, in the form of training for party representatives, was part of the foundation’s global support for parties that “subscribe to the constitutional principles of their country” and that “do not promote the principles extremists”.

The third set of financial disclosures also supports the idea that if you want to start your own political party, it helps to personally have cash on hand. Politics is indeed a rich man’s game. Although Ramaphosa did not bail out the ANC this time around, Herman Mashaba (ActionSA), Gayton McKenzie (Patriotic Alliance) and Raynauld Russon (Progressive Party of Shoholoza) all donated to the parties they founded and are currently leading. DM

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