We are just one year away from one of the most consequential elections in South Africa. While there are lots of important pre-election conversations happening around the new Electoral Amendment Act and the Electoral Commission’s (IEC) readiness to implement this, the topic of coalition governments has gained much more momentum than before given that the elections may lead to seeing coalition governments at provincial and maybe even national level. Another important pre-election topic is of course money in politics with the 2024 elections being the first where we should see who funds who during such a significant time in our democracy.

The recent disclosures for the months April – June 2023/2024, saw four parties declare private donations of above R100 000. The ANC received R20 000 000, DA R22 901 161, Action SA R14 164 160, and the independent candidate body, Build One South Africa (BOSA) raked in 
R 2 100 000. This was the first time BOSA disclosed funding above the threshold albeit a late declaration which the IEC issued them a directive for.

The usual group of funders supported these parties. Batho Batho Trust donated R15 000 000, Victoria Freudenheim (member of the Oppenheimer family) with R 7 264 160, Chancellor House Trust with R5 000 000, and Martin Moshal donated R2 000 000. Interestingly, there were quite a few individuals showing their support like entrepreneur Robert Hersov who donated R100 000 to BOSA.

We are expecting to see lots more donations given that we’ve entered election campaigning season but why has only four parties declared funding for the first quarter of 2023/2024?


The above pie-chart shows the parties who received private funding between April and June which you can find on our Whose Vote Counts? platform.

If we continue to see so few parties declaring donations in the next quarters, one has to wonder whether they are all fully complying with the Political Party Funding Act or are finding legal ways to circumvent it.

In July of this year, the EFF celebrated their 10th anniversary by hosting a gala dinner where the party’s leader, Julius Malema, boasted that a seat at his table at the event sold for three times more than the advertised price of R1 200 000. The party later filled up the 95 000 capacity FNB Stadium for more anniversary celebrations. One may think that an event like the gala dinner — which raised funds from private sources for the party — constitutes grounds to declare as per the PPFA especially since the anniversary fell within the disclosure period. However, these funds are not considered direct funding or as in-kind donations as per the PPFA. This is a prime example of one of the weaknesses of the PPFA, and this requires its amendment to be more effective.

The PPFA needs fine-tuning but especially regarding the enforcement capabilities of the IEC. We’ve talked extensively about this weak-spot and how it is the only way to ensure the legislation is working as it’s supposed to. The IEC has asked the public before that if anyone suspects anything amiss, it should be reported to the IEC and they will follow up. The IEC has repeatedly said that they will not be playing a watch-dog role and that the onus of being truthful is placed on political parties. The PPFA does, however, provide the IEC with a wide range of powers to monitor compliance with the law. Unless it is given the budget and capacity, we are at the risk of political parties not complying with the law.  South African voters deserve a political system that operates on accountability. 

Visit our Whose Vote Counts? platform for more details on who funded who between April and June for 2023/2024. 

Whose Vote Counts?

In other news…

What coalition governments would mean for voters

We were invited by the IEC to speak at a Thought Leadership workshop on coalition governments and its significance for the voter and accountability. The conversation focused on how voters and the public can hold coalition governments accountable. This is a complicated issue, because when multiple parties are in power, it can become more difficult to identify who is responsible for what, and to decide how to sanction or reward them. There was consensus that while we may require some legislative changes to stabilise coalitions, laws alone will not solve the issues of coalitions breaking down and being dysfunctional. 

Our Senior Researcher, Joel Bregman, presented alongside Prof. Jaap De Visser of the Dullah Omar Institute and the event was attended by political parties, academics, and civil society organisations.

You can listen to Joel speak about coalition governments on Cape Talk below.

Cape Talk Interview

Parliament recommends Janet Love as IEC Commissioner

The National Assembly unanimously recommended that Janet Love be appointed as IEC Commissioner. Love’s term came to an end earlier this year which then followed an interview process lead by the Chief Justice. The president now has to officially confirm Love’s appointment. 

Coming soon…

We’re working on new research about coalition governments which will be released soon. We’re also working on exciting content and events as all focus is shifted towards 2024 so keep your eyes on our social media accounts for more information.