/ 11 October 2022

ANC-affiliated business forum calls for changes to funding act

Read Cyril Ramaphosa's address at the Siyanqoba rally at Ellis Park stadium.
Regardless of how the 2024 elections end, the ruling party must undergo radical political transformation to survive (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The Political Party Funding Act should be changed to allow big and small parties to widen their donor nets, according to Sipho Mbhele, president of the ANC-affiliated Progressive Business Forum.

Mbhele was talking at a recent webinar hosted by advocacy group My Vote Counts. The Progressive Business Forum works under the office of the treasurer general in the ruling party. ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile was invited but did not participate.

Mbhele said parties such as the ANC were being limited by the act, noting that the governing party was dependent on income from donors.

Political parties have taken issue with the new legislation which regulates their transparency and internal workings, limiting private influence in politics.

The Democratic Alliance and the ANC have complained that the law was hampering their fundraising efforts because some business people do not want their names openly associated with political parties.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe told a party meeting in Soweto on 2 October that the law needed to be reviewed.

“It is no secret that the ANC is facing ongoing financial challenges. The party is battling to meet financial obligations, such as staff salaries, tax and other responsibilities,” he said.

However, My Vote Counts researcher Robyn Pasensie said there was a toxic relationship between money and politics. Certain individuals were giving large amounts of money to political parties and then exerting undue influence, she said.

“If a democracy is meant to rest upon the will of the people, but we have a situation where it actually rests with these deep-pocketed entities, then we have a problem in the way our democracy is actually expressed,” said Pasensie.

She believes that a dual system of funding — public and private — would work.

“Billions of taxpayers’ money is spent on funding political parties. Public funding can be used to implement specific measures of recourse and further limit the use of private funding,” she said.

“Private funding can be used to only pay for certain expenses of the political party, like campaigning.” 

Pasensie argued that there were new ways that could be explored and tied to the current funding model to show taxpayers what their money did for them, forcing parties to be accountable for how they used the funds.