Press Release: Web Launch Who funds who in SA politics?
Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
Organised Crime & Corruption Programme
Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa)
Political Information & Monitoring Service (Pims)
Who funds who in SA politics?
ISS & Idasa launch tool to monitor private funding of political parties
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Organised Crime and Corruption Programme and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) Political Information and Monitoring Service (Pims) have launched the first internet based resource on party funding on the African continent: www.whofundswho.org.za
The civil society organisations hope that this comprehensive resource will build momentum for parties and MP`s to seriously consider legislation governing the private funding of political parties in SA – and assist them in formulating policy on the matter.
Hennie van Vuuren Senior Researcher (Anti-Corruption) at the ISS notes that although political parties need money to run election campaigns such monies have the power to corrupt and subvert voter interest in favour of powerful interest groups who donate funds with conditions attached. “Given the countries` powerful armoury of anti-corruption legislation, this legal loophole has the potential to undermine some of the important steps undertaken by Parliament and the countries` democratic institutions to counter corruption.”
Private funding of political parties continues to be disproportionately large in comparison with monies allocated to parties from public coffers annually. According to Judith February of Idasa, “The danger for South Africa is that this relationship between political parties and private capital is potentially toxic when it happens outside of the public eye. It promotes an unequal access to political power between a poor majority and monied donors.”
The joint ISS-Idasa website is the first website of its kind in the African continent - boasting, among other things, a database of reported instances of private funding to political parties in South Africa. The project partners hope that this party funding monitor will become a reference point for researchers and journalists writing on party funding in SA. This research is indicative of funding received by political parties and will be regularly updated. This tool will be presented to policy makers, researchers and journalists at five provincial workshops in the next few months.
The website also includes local and international research material on private funding to political parties – a valuable information source and potential ‘tool-kit` for policy makers in parliament and political parties exploring options to regulate the private funding of political parties in SA.
The issue of disclosure of private funding of political parties needs to be grappled with by all political parties in South Africa. Underscoring the need for political parties to urgently grapple with the issue of disclosure of party funding sources ISS Anti-Corruption Researcher Andile Sokomani notes that, “Our party finance monitoring database shows that few SA political parties have remained untouched by scandal linked to party finance. One only has to think of the Oilgate affair linked to the ANC, the German fraudster Jurgen Harksen who funded the DA, the Ricardo Augusta funding of the New National Party and former MEC David Malatsi. The leadership of the Independent Democrats (ID) were also dragged into spotlight following allegations of funding received from an alleged Western Cape crime figure. And these are only the cases we know of.”
The Who funds who - money in South African politics website is a joint ISS-Idasa project and is funded by the Open Society Foundation (for South Africa).