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How to see where and from whom South African political parties get their money from

How to see where and from whom South African political parties get their money from
Section 32 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution says: “Everyone has the right of access to … any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.” (Illustration: Lisa Nelson)

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

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 Manganese 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 manganese, 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.

Breakdown of ANC donors for 2021 and 2022. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

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.

ActionSA received R1.5-million from the African Equity Corporation, which holds investments in various energy and mineral projects.

Figure 3: Flow of disclosed donations over R100,000 to all political parties. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

Donations from a handful of wealthy people make up large chunks of party funding

South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s companies donate to a variety of parties, with the bulk of Motsepe’s donations going to the ANC. Motsepe and his companies donated R29-million to political parties over the past two years.

Figure 4: Flow of disclosed donations over R100,000 from Patrice Motsepe and linked companies to political parties. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

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Figure 5: Breakdown of donations by Patrice Motsepe and his companies to political parties. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

Members of the Oppenheimer family, which made its fortune through mining companies De Beers and Anglo American, gave the DA R17-million and ActionSA R26-million over the past two years.

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Figure 6: Flow of donations over R100,000 from members of Oppenheimer family to political parties. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

Online gambling magnate Martin Moshal gave R30-million to the DA and R14.5-million to ActionSA over the past two years. DM

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Figure 7: Flow of donations over R100,000 from Martin Moshal to political parties. Source: Whose Vote Counts (accessed 4 August 2023)

First published by GroundUp.

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