EFF threatens Ramaphosa with court action over donors, but who bought their Moët & Chandon, Steenhuisen wonders

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip John Steenhuisen. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)
Democratic Alliance Chief Whip John Steenhuisen. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

After the EFF threatened to go to court if President Cyril Ramaphosa does not disclose who funded his campaign to become president of the ANC, the spotlight was turned on their own funding.

After ANC MP and chairperson of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services Bulelani Magwanishe introduced the legislative proposal to amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi asked to make a declaration.

"It is important in terms of this particular amendment and legislative process to reiterate our call that President Ramaphosa must take the country into its confidence about people, companies, that funded his presidential campaign to become the president of the ANC," Ndlozi said. 

"In the interest of access to information, we have the right as South Africans to know who funded the CR17 campaign and what do they stand to benefit."

He said it was critical, as Ramaphosa had promised he would be a transparent president. 

"It is a fact that he doesn't deny that he received funding for his presidential campaign. He did not declare it in Parliament, that is illegal.

"President Ramaphosa, reveal who funded you. Reveal their names. Reveal also what do they stand to benefit.

"We are giving him an opportunity, because if he doesn't do so, we'll have to do it on his behalf. Or, we'll have to go and approach our courts to force him to reveal the people who funded him and also what do they stand to benefit," Ndlozi said.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Parliament does not have much choice in making the amendment, as it was instructed by the Constitutional Court. 

"But I do think it is time we start looking at the connection between money and politics, because there is a nexus there that can be problematic," Steenhuisen added.

"We wouldn't have issues like Bosasa if this had been enacted five years ago."

He said the good thing about legislation was that it applied to all parties equally. 

Relying heavily on a recent, controversial article by the Daily Maverick, Steenhuisen then added: "We need to ask questions. Who is funding these parties at fancy houses in Camps Bay? 

"Who is paying for the business class tickets that were found in the rubbish bins at those parties?

"Who is paying for the Moët & Chandon and Meerlust Rubicon that was found there?"

He also referred to the recent revelation that EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu met with industrialist Johann Rupert and EFF leader Julius Malema's tax woes. 

"Why are politicians meeting with Mr Anton [sic] Rupert, quietly, behind the scenes, and keeping this away from their own parties? 

"And more importantly, what interest would a businessperson have in paying for somebody's outstanding tax bill at SARS?" 

Steenhuisen said if not regulated properly, politics could become a terrible place where money displaced the interests of South Africans. 

"And you have got to look at who the hidden hand is behind many of these particular parties. And I think if you look at the recent attack on people like the honourable Pravin Gordhan, and others, I think you can follow the money back very carefully, and it ends up at Mr [Adriano] Mazzotti's door.

"You can see in Mr Andile Mngxitama's opposition to many things, you can trace the money back to the Gupta family. 

"These are the nexuses that we have to watch out for in politics to ensure that money doesn't taint politics in South Africa."

He said the DA would ensure it was a responsible amendment.  

"We look forward to this new era of transparency, hopefully it will prevent things like we've seen unfolding in our body politic in the last fortnight." 

The committee has proposed amending the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 so that it provides for recording, preserving and making information available about private funding of political parties and independent candidates. 

This is to bring it in line with a ruling by the Constitutional Court on June 21, 2018, which declared the act invalid because it had not done this and ordered Parliament to make the necessary amendments. The application was brought by the lobby group for transparency in party funding, My Vote Counts.

ALSO READ: Transparent party funding is important – now more than ever

According to a statement from Parliament, the bill, which the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services has proposed and which the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development supports, obliges the accounting officer of a political party (defined to include an independent candidate) to create and keep records of any money paid or donated by persons or entities to a political party which is more than R100 000; any money lent to the political party; any money paid on behalf of a political party; assets, services or facilities provided to a political party; and any sponsorships provided to a political party.

The records must be kept for at least five years after they have been created. 

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