South African rand notes in a file photo. Picture: REUTERS
South African rand notes in a file photo. Picture: REUTERS

Correction: April 23 2019 In a previous version of this article, we quoted from a report by My Vote Counts (MVC), which implicated Afrirent as a donor to the EFF. What we failed to explain was that MVC based its allegation on an investigative report by amaBunghane, in which Afrirent is said to have paid monies to Mahuna, an EFF “front company”. Afrirent has since denied funding any political party in SA. We apologise for not giving the proper context to the allegation and, as the alleged payment is the subject of a dispute, we have removed it from the article.

SA’s political parties have been receiving donations in the form of money, goods and services for years from the likes of banks, corporations, individuals, foreign entities, governments and political parties, and state-owned enterprises.

My Vote Counts (MVC), a nonprofit organisation, has released a report that is a compilation of information on private funding of political parties through donations and other financial transfers.

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Private funding of political parties is in the spotlight especially after disclosures at the state capture inquiry about how companies such as Bosasa bribed politically connected individuals and the governing party.

The MVC report details a list of donations given to the ANC, DA, EFF, IFP and UDM.

MVC said the report served as an informative reminder of donations allocated to political parties contesting the May 8 election, in the absence of an effective party funding transparency disclosure regime, which would help voters make an informed decision.

MVC said its report was compiled using publicly available information, but that it could not claim to have all the information on political parties' private funding.

At the top of the MVC’s list of donations to the ANC are those received from Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations.

Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi told the state capture inquiry about how the company paid millions of rand in bribes every month to politically connected individuals to secure tenders at state institutions and made considerable donations to the ANC and some of its leaders.

Other donors were billionaire businessperson Robert Gumede, the Guptas and their entities and VBS Mutual Bank.

The Indian National Congress, a major political party in India, the Chinese Communist Party, and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola were some of the foreign parties said to have funded the party.

Companies such as Sanlam, Anglo American and MTN had also contributed to the party.

The DA’s donors includes Nathan Kirsch, the SA-born billionaire who lives in the UK. Kirsch conceded in an interview with Business Times that he funded the DA and Agang with a “marginal amount” of money, according to MVC.

The opposition party also once took money from a Gupta-linked associate. In 2009, it met Stephen Nel a director of the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers. At that meeting Nel reportedly confirmed that he would provide the party with R200,000.

Like the ANC, the DA also received money from MTN, Sanlam and Anglo American. These companies have donated money to various political parties represented in parliament.

On the list of EFF donors was the VBS Mutual Bank, alleged tobacco smuggler Adriano Mazzotti, and his co-director of Carnilinx, Kyle Phillips.

In January, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Political Party Funding Bill, but it does not affect the 2019 elections.

The law seeks to provide guidelines and new regulations on the funding of political parties. It also includes, among other measures, a ban on donations from foreign sources and a requirement for parties to disclose all donations above a certain threshold.

Civil society organisations, such as MVC, have long called for parliament to enact legislation regulating party funding.

Earlier in April, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) announced that it had decided to postpone the commencement of the first part of the Political Party Funding Act to allow additional time for the finalisation of the regulations and other key preparations.