/ 1 June 2022

IEC can’t investigate political parties that do not declare funding – until you complain

Local Elections Iec 7301 Dv
(Photo: Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Political parties that have not declared their donors under the Political Party Funding Act will not be investigated. This is according to Electoral Commision of South Africa (IEC) spokesperson Kate Bapela, who told the Mail & Guardian that there were no consequences for political parties that did not declare their donations.

“The commission publishes declared donations that are above the minimum threshold of R100 000 and do not exceed R15-million from a single source per annum. Section 14(4) provides for an investigation when a complaint is lodged with the commission. It is important that any such complaint is not nefarious and must demonstrate prima facie substance according to this provision,” she said. 

This week the IEC reported that there were only two political parties that declared their donors for the fourth quarter. 

This is a sharp decline from the previous quarter, where 11 political parties made declarations totalling more than R46-million.

The only two parties that declared funding in the fourth quarter — which runs from January to March 2022 — were the ANC and the Democratic Alliance.

Respectively, the parties received R10-million and about R2.5-million.

But Sheilan Clarke, of advocacy group My Vote Counts, has identified several loopholes in the Political Party Funding Act, including the investigative powers of the IEC if political parties fail to declare their funders. 

Clarke suggested that the act should be strengthened to force all political parties to disclose their donors and allow an amendment to the threshold amount. 

“The act needs to be strengthened to best fit our democracy. All political parties should come to the table to complete the missing piece of the puzzle by explaining where they receive their funding from if they did not receive above the threshold,” said Clarke.

Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said in a statement that the latest declarations are by far the least, both in terms of value of donations and the number of parties making declarations. 

“For the first time, only two political parties made declarations and the total value of donations was below R30-million.”

On Monday, the IEC issued the party funding’s fourth-quarter disclosure report for the financial year. 

The report confirmed that a monetary donation of R10-million was donated to the ANC from United Manganese of Kalahari, a mining company operating on the Kalahari manganese field in the John Taole Gaetsewe district municipality. 

In respect of the DA, a foreign “in-kind” donation of about R1.7-million was received from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Germany. According to the IEC third quarter report, the foundation has made donations to the DA in the previous three quarters amounting to R1 284 526.94.

The IEC has since reviewed these repeated donations to the political party and confirmed that “all the foreign donations declared by the DA were fully compliant with the act in that they fall within the R5-million ceiling per donor”, read the report.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation was not the DA’s only foreign donor. The party also received about R690 000 from the Danish Liberal Democracy Programme.

“Noting that the fourth quarter disclosure period was immediately after the local government elections, it appears that there is a nexus between the number and total value of donations and the election cycle. The more imminent the elections, the more likely that parties will receive significant donations,” Mamabolo said.