Political Donations Surge in Q1: DA and ANC Lead

  • Record Donations: The first quarter of 2023-24 saw a surge in political donations, with R 58 million disclosed.
  • Major Contributors: The Democratic Alliance (DA) and African National Congress (ANC) received the highest donations.
  • Late Declarations Addressed: Build One SA reported late donations, leading to corrective action and training to ensure compliance.
Tax the Rich

The Electoral Commission of South Africa has just released its eagerly anticipated Party Funding’s First Quarter Disclosure Report for the 2023-24 financial year, painting a vivid picture of the financial landscape of South Africa’s political parties. This comprehensive report, which covers the period from April 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023, unveils an intriguing story of political contributions, late declarations, and an astonishing surge in disclosed donations.

Unveiling the Financial Landscape

In a country where political donations have long been a subject of scrutiny and debate, the Electoral Commission’s report provides unprecedented insight into the financial health of South Africa’s political parties. This marks the ninth disclosure report since the implementation of the Party Funding Act, offering a comprehensive look at the state of party funding.

The Donations Declaration

One of the most striking revelations of this report is the significant increase in the value of donations during the first quarter of the financial year, surpassing previous quarters. In total, four political parties stepped forward to disclose their funding sources during this period, with the total value of declared donations amounting to an eye-popping R 58,365,321.09. To put this into perspective, this figure is the second-highest amount disclosed since the inception of the Party Funding Act, trailing only behind the R 60.2 million declared in the second quarter of the previous financial year.

The breakdown of these donations among the four political parties is as follows:

Political PartyTotal Donations (Rands)Highest Donation (Rands)Donor Highlights
Democratic Alliance (DA)R 22,901,161.09R 22,901,161.09Fynbos Ekwiteit (Pty) Ltd (R 15,000,000), Main Street 1564 (R 5,000,000), Mr. G Ryan (R 2,000,000)
African National Congress (ANC)R 20,000,000.00R 20,000,000.00Batho Batho Trust (R 15,000,000), Chancellor House Trust (R 5,000,000)
ActionSAR 12,164,160.00R 7,200,000.00Victoria Freudenheim (R 7,200,000), Solomon David Group (Pty) Ltd (R 2,000,000 each), Style Eyes of California (Pty) Ltd (R 700,000)
Build One South Africa (BOSA)R 3,300,000.00R 2,000,000.00 (plus R 1,300,000 late declaration)Mr. Martin Paul Moshal (R 2,000,000)

Notable Donations and Their Impact

Democratic Alliance (DA): The DA claimed the highest declared donation, amounting to a staggering R 22,901,161.09. This significant influx of funds came primarily from Fynbos Ekwiteit (Pty) Ltd, contributing R 15,000,000. Interestingly, this entity has been a consistent supporter, having made substantial donations to the party over the last two financial years. Additionally, the DA received substantial support from Main Street 1564 (R 5,000,000) and Mr. G Ryan (R 2,000,000).

African National Congress (ANC): The ANC, South Africa’s oldest political party, secured the second-highest donation with a value of R 20,000,000. This substantial sum predominantly came from Batho Batho Trust (R 15,000,000), with the remainder sourced from Chancellor House Trust (R 5,000,000). Both of these entities are well-established contributors to the ANC.

ActionSA: This relatively new political player entered the scene with a declaration of R 12,164,160.00. The bulk of their donations (60%) was received from Victoria Freudenheim, who contributed R 7,200,000. Additionally, ActionSA benefited from two donations of R 2,000,000 each from Solomon David Group (Pty) Ltd, along with R 700,000 from Style Eyes of California (Pty) Ltd.

Build One South Africa (BOSA): As a newly registered political party, BOSA made a promising debut with a total declared donation of R 3,300,000. This sum included a late declaration of R 1,300,000, reflecting donations from Hlumelo Biko, Robert B Hersov, and RTH Investments (Pty) Ltd. Notably, Hlumelo Biko’s contribution should have been declared in January 2023 but was reported late, leading to a direction being issued under section 15 of the Act.

Late Declarations: A Lesson Learned

Intriguingly, the report highlights three late declarations totaling R 1,300,000, all reported by Build One SA. These donations relate to the third and fourth quarters of the 2022/23 financial year. Hlumelo Biko, previously reported as the Chief Executive of the party, made a donation of R 200,000 in December 2022, which should have been declared in January 2023. The other two donations were received in January and March 2023, but should have been declared in April 2023. As a response to this late declaration, Build One SA officials were issued a direction under section 15 of the Act, and the party received detailed training on the Party Funding Act. This training is aimed at empowering the party and ensuring compliance with the legislative requirements in the future.

Foreign and In-kind Donations

While the bulk of the donations were domestic, one foreign donation totaling R 221,161.09 was declared. This foreign contribution came from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and was received by the Democratic Alliance (DA). Interestingly, the FNF’s donation also constituted the only in-kind donation declared during the first quarter. These funds were earmarked for several training workshops for DA members, including the party’s youth and women’s organizations. These programs included DA Youth Cape Metro Training, DA Fundraising Training Workshop, Strategic Planning for Political Parties Training, and Empowering Women in Politics – A Leadership Workout Training. Importantly, this donation was fully compliant with the requirements for foreign donations.

Reflecting on the Numbers

The disclosure of donations exceeding R 57 million during the first quarter of the current financial year is undoubtedly a significant development in South African politics. This figure stands as the second-highest amount declared since the implementation of the Party Funding Act, showcasing the enduring influence of financial support in shaping the political landscape.

As South Africans continue to scrutinize and engage with the funding of political parties, this report underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in the electoral process. While some parties have secured substantial donations from familiar contributors, the emergence of new parties on the scene also demonstrates a diverse funding landscape.

The Electoral Commission’s commitment to training political parties on the requirements of the Party Funding Act demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing potential compliance issues, particularly among newly registered entities.

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