In DepthThe QuestionShould African political parties publish their lists of donors?


Posted on Monday, 30 September 2013 18:14

Should African political parties publish their lists of donors?

By The Africa Report

Most African ruling parties insist upon maintaining secrecy on the origin of political donations in order to avoid scrutiny. But more opposition parties are now calling for openness to be the norm.


The issue of political party funding is more complicated within newly democratised societies, especially where politics is characterised by a ruling dominant party and where the distinction between party and state becomes less obvious. In this case, smaller political parties may find it more difficult to declare donors, as donors might be considered disloyal or be penalised by the state, for example as an economic role player. Within south africa, we do not fully conform to this trend, although many donors may believe correctly or perceptually that they would suffer if it was made known that they donated money to the opposition or other political parties. For this reason, the Democratic Alliance (DA) assures all our donors that we will keep their donations confidential unless they themselves choose to disclose this. The DA has supported legislation that requires the disclosure of donations over a particular threshold but has maintained the ruling party enact this legislation to create a level playing field. If the DA believed that legislation regulating the disclosure of the funding to political parties was effective, we would support it. Our position would apply to all political parties within Africa. ● Helen Zille - Leader, Democratic Alliance, South Africa


Yes, in an ideal World, african political parties should publish their lists of donors. It is important that they do so for the public to know if the policies they espouse are free from undue influence. Transparency in political party funding is critical to ensuring that political parties in africa are not beholden to, for example, foreign powers that have an interest in thwarting the development of the continent for their own economic interests. Having said that, it is unfortunate that new parties, such as Agang south africa (Agang SA), are forced to operate in an environment that has encouraged secrecy around political party funding to suit the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Although Agang SA would like to buck the trend and be transparent about the source of its funding, the unfortunate truth is that revealing the names of its funders, without their express permission, would be to expose such people to reprisals by a vindictive ruling party.
Thus, it would be foolhardy for funders of opposition parties to openly declare their support for efforts aimed at toppling incumbent parties, such as the ANC. Meanwhile, the ruling party continues to benefit from dubious sources of funding, such as monies diverted from the state and large government contracts through its investment arm, chancellor house. ● Mamphela Ramphele - Leader, Agang SA, South Africa

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