South Africa

ANC, DA, and EFF’s biggest funders revealed

South African political parties have received R339 million in private funding since 2021, with the majority of funding coming from the Oppenheimer family, Capitec founder Michiel le Roux, Durban-born billionaire Martin Moshal, and Batho Batho Trust.

Under the new Political Party Funding Act, enacted in April 2021, political parties must declare all donations above R100,000 to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). 

The ANC received the largest share of funding since 2021, with R137.6 million, followed by the DA with R125.3 million, ActionSA with R65.9 million, and the EFF with R3.5 million.

In the first quarter of 2023, the EFF declared no donations above R100,000. The party is widely believed to have received significant private funding but did not declare it to the IEC.

Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa party received R3.3 million in private funding, with Martin Moshal being its largest donor.

The data shows that the ANC and the DA rely heavily on private funding, while the EFF and ActionSA rely more on public funding. 

When political parties rely heavily on private funding, they may be more likely to make decisions that benefit their donors than the public interest. 

The debate around the funding of political parties recently came to the fore, with the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) calling for a boycott of Capitec Bank over its billionaire founder Michiel le Roux’s donations to the DA.

Le Roux is the DA’s largest funder. He donated over R50 million to the political party through his private companies, Fynbos Ekwiteit, Fynbos Kapitaal, and Fynbos Trust.

Below are overviews of the biggest donors to South Africa’s major political parties, courtesy of Whose Vote Counts?.

Who donates to political parties

Total funds given to political parties = R339.16 million

  • ANC received 40.6% of all funding, which equates to R137.64 million.  
  • DA received 36.9% of all funding, which equates to R125.27 million.
  • Action SA received 19.4% of all funding, which equates to R65.93 million. 
  • EFF received 1% of all funding, which equates to R3.5 million.
  • Build One South Africa received 1% of all funding, which equates to R3.3 million.

The above pie chart shows the largest donors to political parties in South Africa, with the Oppenheimer Family leading the way through its contributions to the Democratic Alliance and Action SA.

Capitec founder Michiel le Roux is a close second to the Oppenheimers, donating over R50 million to the Democratic Alliance since 2021.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the largest donors to South Africa’s political parties. Notable parties such as the Patriotic Alliance, FF Plus and Inkatha Freedom Project are not listed as they received less than R1 million in donations.

African National Congress

Total received = R137.64 million

  1. Batho Batho Trust = 32.7% or R45 million
  2. United Manganese of Kalahari = 23.6% or R32.5 million
  3. Chancellor House Trust = 20% or R27.5 million
  4. Patrice Motsepe = 15.8% or R21.71 million
  5. Other = 4.9% or R6.77 million 

The largest donor to the ANC is the Batho Batho Trust, which contributed nearly a third of all funding to the party, with R45 million donated since 2021.

Founded in 1992, Batho Batho has strong ties to the ANC. Nelson Mandela was its first chairperson, and other trustees included Walter Sisulu and Beyers Naude.

The trust was meant to reduce the ANC’s dependency on foreign funding, which was crucial in the fight for liberation, according to Reverend Molefe Tsele, managing trustee of the Batho Batho Trust.

Batho Batho Trust’s beneficiaries are previously disadvantaged individuals. The ANC is not the sole beneficiary – others include the South African Council of Churches and the Mapungubwe Institute.

“The origins of the trust were from Mandela and the elders. However, the elders were specific that the beneficiary is not the ANC. The beneficiaries are black organisations, black persons who have endured the disadvantages of apartheid,” said Tsele.

“To be very clear, we are not an investment arm of the ANC in as much as we are not the investment arm of the South African Council of Churches.”

The ANC does not have a right to claim monies from the trust – it can only request funding.

Chancellor House Holdings is the investment arm of the ANC, the ruling party in South Africa.

It has been involved in several controversial deals, including an R20 billion contract to build boilers for Eskom’s Kusile and Medupi power stations.

It has also been involved in the United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK) mine, partly owned by a Russian company, and Tenova Mining and Minerals, an Italian company that Eskom overpaid.

The ANC has always insisted that Chancellor House operates at arm’s length from the party. However, the company confirmed in 2021 that the ANC draws a direct benefit from Chancellor House investments, raising questions about the party’s influence on the awarding of government contracts.

Democratic Alliance

Total received = R125.27 million

  1. Fynbos (incl. Ekwiteit, Trust, Kapitaal) = 40.2% or R50.37 million
  2. Martin Moshal = 23.9% or R30 million
  3. Oppenheimer Family = 14% or R17.5 million
  4. Other = 5.5% or R6.92 million
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation = 5% or R6.25 million 

Capitec founder Michiel le Roux is the DA’s largest funder. He donated over R50 million to the political party through his private companies, Fynbos Ekwiteit, Fynbos Kapitaal, and Fynbos Trust.

He explained that the donations came from him and his companies and had nothing to do with Capitec Bank.

Capitec’s head of brand and communications, Bronwyn Pretorius, also confirmed that the bank does not fund any political parties.

Durban-born billionaire Martin Moshal is the second-largest funder to the DA and the largest private funder overall.

Moshal owns online betting giant Betway and now lives in Australia. He has also donated significant funds to Action SA, with his support for a multi-party coalition to remove the ANC in next year’s elections well-known.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is a German foundation for liberal politics related to the Free Democratic Party.

Established in 1958 by Theodor Heuss, the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany, it promotes individual freedom and classical liberalism.

Action SA

Total received = R65.93 million

  1. Oppenheimer Family = 50.5% or R33.26 million
  2. Martin Moshal = 22% or R14.5 million
  3. Other = 9.3% or R6.15 million
  4. Mashaba Family =  8.8% or R5.8 million
  5. PTY Props 247 = 6.4% or R4.21 million

Action SA received the majority of its funding from the Oppenheimer family, most of which is held by Nicky Oppenheimer.

Nicky inherited an incredible fortune in the form of the De Beers group – the world’s leading diamond mining company.

Nicky’s father, Harry, was the chairman of De Beers and the mining giant Anglo American. He was in charge of the world’s largest coal, diamonds, gold, and platinum suppliers.

Nicky Oppenheimer decided to sell 40% of DeBeers to Anglo in 2012, which raised $5.2 billion in cash.

Aside from receiving significant donations from Martin Moshal, Action SA leader Herman Mashaba also made significant contributions to his party.

Economic Freedom Fighters 

Total received = R3.5 million

  1. Patrice Motsepe = 62.8% or R2.2 million
  2. 3Sixty Health = 21.4% or R750,000
  3. Other = 15.8% or R552,600

Julius Malema’s EFF has sporadically declared donations to the political party, with no donation above R100,000 declared in the first quarter of 2023.

The IEC has repeatedly called for additional legislation to give the Political Party Funding Act teeth to bring political parties to account for the donations they receive.

Currently, unless a disgruntled party member alerts the commission about a donation made to a party, the IEC does not know if the party has failed to disclose its funding.

Since 2021, according to declarations from the EFF, Patrice Motsepe has contributed the majority of its funding.

Motsepe regularly donates to a wide array of political parties and the Multi-Party Democracy Fund, which is managed by the IEC and gives the money it collects to political parties according to their share of the vote in the most recent elections.

Build One South Africa

Total = R3.3 million

  1. Martin Moshal = 60.6% or R2 million
  2. Other = 39.4% or R1.3 million

Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa (BOSA) has received a significant amount of funding from Martin Moshal.

Fellow billionaire Rob Hersov has been outspoken in his support of Maimane and has contributed R100,000 to BOSA.


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