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The politics of being really, really rich

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We don’t have a complete picture of election spending in South Africa – only information on public funding of political parties is required to be disclosed. But we do know that in the 12 months leading up to the 2009 national elections, the Independent Electoral Commission, tasked with allocating and disbursing election funding from the public kitty, paid out almost R90 million (approximately$12.8 million) to 19 political parties based on their representation in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. The ANC received R61.1 million and the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition, received just R10.5 million. However, based on the spending of both, it is clear that private funding does find its way into their coffers.

Campaigning for the 2009 elections, the ANC spent R200 million, most of which it says it raised from selling paraphernalia. Now I fail to see how that’s even possible unless of course they were selling their custom leather jackets or trademark black, green and gold flags for R20 million a pop. The truth is, some of the funds came from the ANC’s own investments (of which it has plenty) and the rest from private donations from local and foreign (possibly mostly Chinese?) sources. Without information on these private donations, we’re left to educated conjecture to answer our questions. The majority of the $4 billion spent on the mid-terms came from corporations, rich and super-rich individuals, and advocacy groups, so it stands to reason that the same possibly held true for the R200 million spent by the ANC on the 2009 election campaign.

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