Having learnt from dodgy campaign payments, party says it will be more circumspect about donors
Plagued by state capture and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s backtracking on a R500 000 payment – which, it transpired, was a donation made in October 2017 by controversial security company Bosasa (now African Global Operations) to his presidential campaign – the ANC plans to be stricter when it comes to those who want to fund the party this election season.
ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula told City Press last week that Luthuli House had grown “sensitive” to being funded by people with “dubious backgrounds and questionable characters”.
The ANC will look to breathe life into its election campaign when Ramaphosa delivers the annual January 8 statement in KwaZulu-Natal on January 12.
It will launch its election manifesto at the same time.
“We are not a rich party, despite the fact that we govern the country and that people think we eat all the tenders. We fundraise like any other party,” he said.
“This election will need money, but the question of our budget is not for public consumption. We are fundraising. We will have a successful campaign and a resourceful campaign.”
He declined to comment on the party’s budget.
During the 2016 local government elections, national executive committee (NEC) member Nomvula Mokonyane reportedly let slip that the party had spent more than R1 billion on its campaign.
Mbalula emphasised that those who made donations to the party should not expect anything in return.
“We are not promising anyone anything. People are fundraising on goodwill; there are no strings attached. We are conscious now of fundraising schemes and how we can come to be funded by people with dubious backgrounds and questionable character. So I think the treasurer-general is very sensitive to that ... because it tends to affect our image in a not so good way.”
The judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, which has made a casualty of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, is set to hear more testimony from ANC members about how the Gupta family came to wield so much power over some officials.
Mbalula was one of the first to raise concerns about the family during an NEC meeting, where he was said to have told the party’s highest decision-making structure that the family had informed him that he would be appointed as police minister before an official announcement had come from the presidency.
Ramaphosa is yet to provide clarity on when and who will pay back the R500 000 to African Global Operations.
As the majority of voters are youngsters, Mbalula has lamented the divided state of the ANC Youth League, saying it had opened the door for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to move in on young voters.
“The ANC needs to stay focused because the majority of the youth support our party ... We are not looking at that party [the EFF] and what it does. We are looking at what we need to do as the ANC, given the fact that our message will resonate with most young people. That is what we need to home in on.
“Over and above that, we need to exploit the fact that we have young people in the ANC. But we have a very weak youth league, which gave rise to the EFF mopping up in that space of young people. But we are confident that the majority of the youth will be, and are, in the ANC.”
As a former youth league leader, Mbalula admitted to experiencing problems as the elections head in mobilising the fragmented league for the purposes of this election campaign.
“It has been difficult dealing with a structure that is not stable, but now that we have resolved issues to do with the league’s national elective conference, we are confident that it will have a fruitful engagement – because everyone has accepted that it will have to wait for the conference to take place after the elections.”
The ANC has seen a steady decline at the polls, but is hoping to make a comeback after ridding itself of Jacob Zuma, who has been placed at the centre of the party’s woes.
KwaZulu-Natal has continued to garner the lion’s share of votes at the polls for the ANC, hence its decision to announce its plans from that province this week.
“We come here because it is our province and it brings numbers to our campaign,” said Mbalula.
“It was strategic to come here and demonstrate to all and sundry that KwaZulu-Natal is with us. The issue of leadership will always be a challenge, but the fact is that any presidential candidate who originated from here – such as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – should not be reduced to tribal politics. She is a national leader,” Mbalula said, referring to the presidential race between Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.
“Former president Zuma originates from KwaZulu-Natal and presided over the country for 10 years – that is an achievement.”
Mbalula added that he was not worried about Deputy President David Mabuza being given the cold shoulder in KwaZulu-Natal after he was labelled a traitor by some in the province for shifting allegiance from Dlamini-Zuma to Ramaphosa at the eleventh hour. He said the party had moved on.
Mbalula added that he was “worried” about the election machinery of the ANC being slow to “warm up”, but expressed the hope that the week’s events would put the campaign on track.
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