Libya, Angola, China and India's ruling parties boost election chest, writes Mandy Rossouw.
The ANC is keeping mum on its funding sources for the election campaign, but party insiders involved in fundraising say its election effort is heavily subsidised by the ruling parties in Libya, Angola, China and India.
A source involved in fundraising said the party began actively fund-raising in these countries for its election coffers before Polokwane. The ANC’s initial election budget for the 2009 election totalled about R100-million, excluding travel and logistical arrangements, which cost the most, a source said.
He said the party has also received funds from oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s most notorious dictatorships.
The ANC’s funding strategy is based on donations by individuals, but the big money comes from ruling parties elsewhere.
ANC president Jacob Zuma and ANC delegations have been travelling, ostensibly to build historical relationships with other ruling parties but also to raise funds, insiders say.
He visited Angola in March last year for the celebration of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale with a heavyweight ANC delegation.
In June last year, in New Delhi, he signed a memorandum of understanding between the ANC and the Indian National Congress. This was followed by a visit to China where he met Hu Jintao, Chinese president and general secretary of the Communist Party of China.
In October last year he attended Equatorial Guinea’s independence day celebrations as a guest of dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled the country since 1979, despite flawed elections.
“The ANC have never asked for money from foreign governments; it is always from one ruling party to another,” said an ANC insider.
ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa would not be drawn on the ANC’s finances, saying the party did not want to sound boastful.
“We need to stay humble about our finances. Our supporters are humble people,” he told the M&G.
He said the party will talk about election funding only after elections.
It has a long-standing relationship with the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi, who has been a major funder of its election campaigns, insiders say.
Zuma, SACP secretary general Blade Nzimande and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have visited Libya, begging bowl in hand.
“They went to get money for the ANC election campaign under the guise of the alliance. This was before Polokwane, when they were preparing to take over,” an alliance source said.
“Once the Libyans knew Zuma was coming, they knew they had to find money from somewhere. The amount would have been communicated behind the scenes to the delegation. Zuma never brought it up directly,” another source involved in fundraising said.
The source said when former president Nelson Mandela visited Gadaffi in 1994 he returned with $40-million in briefcases to fund the ANC’s election effort.
The ANC was also said to be receiving funding from Angola’s ruling MPLA after Zuma took the party reins. Relations between Angola and South Africa were frosty while former president Thabo Mbeki was ANC leader, but Zuma had made a determined effort to change this.
A Zuma presidency is expected to pave the way for South African businesses to invest in Angola, with mining, agriculture and construction targeted. Countries such as Libya, where the government is investing heavily in infrastructure, are also looking to South Africa for specialised skills and companies.
“It would be naive to think strengthening of relations will not influence things like allocation of tenders. There will be business opportunities a fraternal country will be able to exploit.
“You have much more to offer; there are contracts and cooperation,” the ANC insider said.
The ANC has had pre-1994 ties with the Indian Congress Party and the Chinese Communist Party, but “it is different when you’re a ruling party”, said a source.
He said previous ANC election budgets had reached R300-million, but in 2009 the budget had fallen to half this amount.
Meanwhile, the Congress of the People, which has vowed to disclose its funding, is understood to have an election budget of R40-million and hopes to raise this to R60-million. The DA reportedly budgeted R60-milllion. The government provides R75-million for political parties to fight elections, but this is distributed in proportion to each party’s parliamentary representation.—Additional reporting by Stefaans Brümmer