/ 9 September 2021

Party funding: DA rakes in R15mn in donations, ANC R10mn

Safrica Politics Democratic Alliance
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. (Wikus de Wet/AFP)

In the first funding report by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), three parties have declared they have received donations of more than R100 000, together totalling R30-million.

Of the 504 political parties registered with the IEC, 393 did not respond to the requirement of the Political Party Funding Act. The ANC, the Democratic Alliance and ActionSA submitted their declarations and 108 parties said they had not received donations large enough to be declared. 

“Both [the] political party receiving donations and its juristic donors (corporates and entities) must declare such donations,” said Janet Love, the vice-chancellor of the electoral commission. 

Love said that two donors had failed to comply with the dual disclosure requirement. 

The donations affected are those meant for the ANC. 

Love said that “Although the political party has made the declaration and therefore complied from its end, the donors had not complied with the requirement to separately declare the donation made. This means that the record includes what is referred to as single-legged donation reports.”

The ANC declared that it had received donations of more than R10-million. 

The DA received R15 983 751.48. 

The IEC said two foreign entities made direct donations to the DA and that these were compliant with requirements set out in the Act, namely, that such donations must only be for the purposes of “training or skills development of a member of a political party; or policy development by a political party”.

ActionSA declared donations amounting to R3 305 090.26.

The IEC said: “Although not all political parties responded, a significant number of them, especially among the represented parties, reported in writing that they did not receive qualifying donations in the reporting period. Qualifying donations are those above the threshold amount of R100 000.” 

This public pronouncement is in terms of the Political Party Funding Act, which President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law on 22 January 2019 and promulgated it in February this year. 

The Act regulates the public and private funding of political parties with the aim being to establish transparency and trust between the public and political parties.

The IEC’s quarterly report is the first since the Act became officially operational in April this year.

The Act mandates political parties to disclose to the IEC all donations above the R100 000 threshold in a year. No donations from a single donor may be more than R15-million in a year. 

There are also restrictions on where political parties can receive funding from. They cannot accept donations by government departments, state-owned entities and foreign governments and agencies. 

Further restrictions have also been put on the amount and purpose for which foreign entities can make direct donations to registered political parties. Such donations are for the purpose of facilitating skills development, training and policy development. The limit for this is R5-million a year.

On the matter of crowdfunding, the IEC’s chief executive for party funding, George Mahlangu, said it will not be treated any differently to any other form of donation

“If a member of the crowd donates any amount above R100 000, that has to be declared to the commission, any amount that is less than R100 000 political parties are obliged to keep record … we will pick up at the end of the financial year once the audit has been conducted that the political party has complied, or has not complied with the provisions of the legislation,” he said. 

The Act establishes a Multi-Party Democracy Fund but Love said there was a low uptake in supporting the fund. 

It had been hoped funding would come from the private sector to support political parties. But only one member of the public made a contribution to the fund — R2 000. 

Love said the IEC needed to create awareness of the importance of the multiparty democracy project, saying “part of the reason for [the low uptake] is because of an insufficient awareness of the effect of the funds existence”. 

Only when the fund reaches R1-million will distributions to political parties be made.