OMRY MAKGOALE: Why party electoral funding needs to be made public


Details of President Cyril Ramaphosa's 2017 African National Congress (ANC) presidency campaign funding were splashed in the Sunday Independent on 18 August, but there has been no disclosure about the campaign accounts of the other six ANC presidential candidates.

These were Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (former minister of foreign affairs, and currently minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Baleka Mbete (former speaker in the National Assembly), Lindiwe Sisulu (currently minister of human settlements, water & sanitation), Zweli Mkhize (currently minister of health, and former ANC treasurer general), Mathews Phosa (former premier of Mpumalanga and ANC treasurer general ) and Jeff Radebe (retired minister for energy, and previously minister of justice and constitutional development).

But what kind of democracy is that? One politician is put under the spotlight and scrutiny, and six are shrouded in darkness. Who knows what the secrets are of Ramaphosa's prime contender, Dlamini Zuma’s, campaign funding? Or any of the other five candidates?

The revelations about the CR17 campaign account provide irrefutable evidence of the role of money in internal party elections and the need to change the internal electoral laws to “one member, one vote” for electing party leaders. This is the only way to nullify the use of brown envelopes and black plastic bags in the boots of cars. Without changing the current ANC electoral laws, we cannot stop the flagrant use of money for bribing delegates.

ANC members are right at the periphery of electing party leaders, as these are chosen at national elective conferences by delegates representing 2% of ANC members, while we the 98% of members are left at home in the cold.

Delegates, not party members, elect our party leaders, and then we as voters are represented not by individuals but by party headquarters when voting in general elections for national and provincial parliaments.

All the main political parties in SA use the branch delegate format of the elective conferences, whether ANC, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters or Inkatha Freedom Party. They do not practice One Member One Vote system for electing leaders. They all get sponsors and donors who are not identified voluntarily, or by law, except through press investigations.

The campaign accounts of presidential candidates focus on the capturing of these delegates at national elective conferences. In turn, the sponsors of the presidential candidates expect those who win elections to ensure them a return on the money invested in the party electoral campaigns. This is important under the current parliamentary electoral laws, where the electorate votes for the party and not for individual candidates.

We do not have the right to elect our political leaders directly, whether inside the political parties or as our representatives in both national and provincial parliaments. It means that both within the party and in Parliament somebody chooses leaders for us. A capture of party branch delegates leads to capture of the political party headquarters which in turn leads to capture of national Parliament.

The result is a National Assembly and provincial councils that do not hold the executive to account and which function as a rubber stamp. No wonder our legislatures were silent against Jacob Zuma's Nkandla compound saga and Gupta appointments of Cabinet ministers and directors of state-owned enterprises.

No wonder the South African economy is in crisis, while more and more people are forced into extreme poverty. We need much more democracy so that The People Shall Govern.

It is time that all SA political parties should have One Member One Vote for electing their leaders.

It is time that political parties are required by law to make public who are the sponsors and donors for their internal party political elections.

And it is time for us to directly elect members of Parliament and provincial councils ourselves, as the voters.

Omry Makgoale is rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views