Shell-linked Batho Batho Trust donated R15 million to ANC

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Gwede Mantashe.
Gwede Mantashe.
Felix Dlangamandla
  • A company with links to petroleum giant Shell donated R15 million to the ANC.
  • The government supported Shell's plans for seismic exploration off the Wild Coast.
  • The EFF declared donations for the first time, having received more than R3 million between October and December 2021.

A company linked to Shell – the petroleum giant that has the government's support for seismic exploration off the Wild Coast, despite public outrage – donated R15 million to the ANC in the third quarter of the current financial year.

It was the single-largest donation that was declared between October and December 2021 – the period when opposition to Shell's seismic exploration plans started to grow.

This emerged on Tuesday, when the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) published declarations in terms of the Political Party Funding Act.

The EFF declared funding for the first time.

The ANC received the lion's share of the declared funds - R22 803 969 - and, out of this, R15 million was donated by the Shell-linked Batho Batho Trust.

"The largest amount of a single monetary donation declared is the R15 000 000 donated by Batho Batho Trust and declared by the ANC," the IEC's statement read.

READ | The ANC's financial links to Shell

The Batho Batho Trust has tight links to the ANC.

It holds about 47% of the black-owned investment group, Thebe, which has a 28% stake in Shell's downstream business in South Africa.

Toward the end of last year, public opposition to Shell's seismic exploration plans grew.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe – who also happens to be the ANC's national chairperson – lashed out at environmental groups and said the opposition to the exploration was a "special type" of apartheid and colonialism.

Last week, the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda dismissed Shell and Mantashe's application for leave to appeal a ruling that temporarily halted the seismic survey.

Activists and protesters stand along the M3 at the Shell garage in Newlands during a protest action against the 3D Seismic Survey.

According to the IEC, 11 parties declared a total of R46 036 589.97 during the quarter.

Seven of these parties are represented in Parliament, and they declared the following amounts:

  • ANC: R22 803 969.00
  • ATM: R200 000.00
  • DA: R12 519 623.47
  • EFF: R3 148 176.00
  • FF Plus: R484 438.00
  • GOOD: R340 447.00
  • IFP: R787 588.00

When the list of declarations was published on two previous occasions, the EFF's name was absent.

The party said it didn't receive donations above the threshold during those quarters. The EFF was the only party that opposed the adoption of the Act in the National Assembly.

Four parties that are not represented in Parliament declared as follows:

  • Abantu Integrity Movement (AIM): R100 000.00
  • ActionSA: R5 072 348.50
  • PA: R430 000.00
  • Shosholoza Progressive Party: R150 000.00

The IEC said that, in addition to the R2 000 that was received for the Multi-Party Democracy Fund (MPDF) in the first quarter, it received further contributions of R5 005 000 during the third quarter, of which R5 million was from Vodacom.

The IEC said the number of declarations had shown a noticeable increase in the third quarter:

The commission believes that this is partly a reflection of an improved understanding and wider acceptance of the Act and the need for greater transparency with regard to political party funding.

"While the commission would like to see this trend continuing, it is important to recognise that this period coincided with an election period, ie, the 2021 local government elections.

"There seems to be a positive correlation between the number and size of donations on one hand, and the election period on the other.

"There is also a pattern of donors making donations to different parties in more or less the same way that the Multi-Party Democracy Fund is intended to operate. Donors, such as Harmony Gold Mining Company, African Rainbow Minerals, South African Breweries (SAB) and 3Sixty Health, are among the corporates that made donations to multiple parties," it said.

The IEC said it would investigate if it received credible information that parties didn't declare received donations.

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