Friday, May 24, 2024

South Africa: How to See Where Political Parties Get Their Money

My Vote Counts has launched a tool to visualize political party funding disclosures

  • An online app by My Vote Counts shows who has donated how much to each political party.
  • The tracked donations are limited to amounts greater than R100,000.
  • We examined the data. Here are three key takeaways:
    • A Russian-linked mining company is the ANC’s biggest single donor.
    • Mining and energy interests make up more than 40% of declared funding – mostly to the ANC.
    • Donations from a handful of wealthy people make up large chunks of party funding.

My Vote Counts, a voting rights advocacy group, has launched a new interactive tool that tracks where political parties get their money from.

The Political Party Funding Act, signed into law in 2021, requires political parties to disclose donations greater than R100,000. The new tool, called Whose Vote Counts, aims to make that data accessible to voters, activists and journalists.

“Next year we’re going into what is probably our most consequential election since 1994,” said Minhaj Jeenah, executive director of My Vote Counts, during a media briefing on Thursday. “The funding of politics [and] the inclination to buy influence is going to be a big topic.”

GroundUp spent some time exploring the tool. Here are our three key takeaways.

Russia-linked mining company is ANC’s biggest single donor

The United Mangalese of the Kalahari (UMK) has paid the ANC R30-million rand over the past two years, which makes up over 27% of the party’s disclosed funding.

UMK mines mangalese, a mineral used to make steel, in the Northern Cape, and is partly owned by a Russian oligarch. UMK’s empowerment partner, Majestic Silver Trading, paid the ANC an additional R2.5-million in 2021.

Investment company Chancellor House, which is the ANC’s investment arm, also owns a slice of UMK. Chancellor House, which also has stakes in several big energy projects, gave the ANC R22.5-million in 2021.

Mining and energy interests make up more than 40% of declared funding – mostly to the ANC

Political funders linked to mining include UMK and Patrice Motsepe’s companies, Botho Botho Commercial Enterprise and African Rainbow Minerals. A total of R61-million flowed from mining-linked donors to political parties in the past two years.

The ANC scored R52.5-million in energy-related funding from Chancellor House and Batho Batho Trust, which has a majority stake in Shell’s local BEE partner, Thebe Investment Corporation.