The politics of money in South Africa

This is Sole’s contribution to the book, a collection of papers entitled “Paying for Politics: Party Funding and Political Change in South Africa and the Global South” edited by Anthony Butler and published by Jacana:

In April 2010 Jabulani Sikhakhane, an eminently sensible commentator for Business Day, set out a rather astonishing proposition. In his column he wrote that South Africans should not be dismayed at the prospect of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) making up to a billion rands in profit from a contract to build a new coal-fired power station for the state-owned electricity utility, Eskom.

The profit would flow from a 25 per cent shareholding in Hitachi Power Africa, which won the tender to supply the boiler sets for two new Eskom stations.

The share is held by a company called Chancellor House, which the party has reluctantly acknowledged is an ANC investment vehicle.

Critics have labelled the very notion of the ANC profiting from doing business with the state which its government leads as ‘corruption on a grand scale’, to quote Helen Zille, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance. Zille has argued that the potential benefit to the ruling party is so large that it is a threat to democracy, because of the scale of funds flowing to the ANC.

Hitachi has said the profit to Chancellor House will be modest – in the region of R50m.

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