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Political parties must reveal their financial backers

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-03-01 01:19:25.0
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's partner Gugu Sibiya has been accused of dealing with local companies that secretly sell helicopters to Iran

The Times Editorial: The statement by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in the National Assembly yesterday that it was "not ideal" for the ANC's investment company, Chancellor House, to do business with the government is a non-starter.

In the real world, Chancellor House has been benefiting from its 25% stake in Hitachi Power Africa, a company that has won a multibillion- rand tender to supply boilers to the Medupi power station.

In his response to a parliamentary question, Motlanthe said: "Chancellor House is a company and it engages in economic activity in South Africa and outside of South Africa . ideally, it should not do business with the government at all."

Motlanthe tried to soften the blow, countering conflict of interest allegations by saying Chancellor House had bought a stake in Hitachi long before the Japanese group won the Medupi boiler tender.

Though this might be true, it does not change the fact that the ruling party is doing business with the government.

The issue of how political parties raise money to fund their operations is a hot potato. The ANC, the DA and other parties continue to drag their feet on this.

Pressure groups have been calling for parliament to enact legislation that would force political parties to disclose the sources of their funding. Their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

Though the ANC has acknowledged its association with Chancellor House, we remain in the dark about other organisations.

The silence on such disclosure from opposition parties is deafening. Why is it that parliamentarians, so quick to demand that other sectors of society disclose their sources of funding, do not want to push through an act that would open their own finances to public scrutiny?

As long as we do not know who funds whom, Motlanthe's statement will remain a mere "ideal".

All political parties should disclose their funders.

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