Home » South Africa’s first Black billionaire leads country’s political donations with over $1.7 million

South Africa’s first Black billionaire leads country’s political donations with over $1.7 million

Mining tycoon's companies fund multiple political parties

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi
Edited in Prisma app

Key Points:

  • Patrice Motsepe’s companies ARM and Harmony Gold have become major political donors in South Africa.
  • ARM and Harmony Gold, valued at R160 billion ($10.5 billion), support multiple political parties including the ANC, DA, EFF, and Freedom Front Plus.
  • The 2021 Political Party Funding Act revealed over R300 million ($19.7 million) in corporate donations.

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe, the country’s first Black billionaire, has emerged as a major political donor. Companies associated with Motsepe, including African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and Harmony Gold, have contributed millions to political parties since the disclosure of political funding became mandatory in 2022.

Corporate donations in the millions

Corporate South Africa, traditionally reluctant to engage in political funding, has seen a change with some of the wealthiest families becoming substantial political donors. 

ARM and Harmony Gold, both chaired by Motsepe and collectively valued at R160 billion ($10.5 billion) on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, have been at the forefront of these donations. Public disclosures from the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) reveal that these companies have financially supported a wide range of political parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Freedom Front Plus, Democratic Alliance (DA), and African National Congress (ANC).

Motsepe, known for his close ties to the ANC, has attended several of its conferences as a guest. He is also the brother-in-law of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

Since the 2021/22 financial year, ARM and Harmony Gold have donated approximately R26 million ($1.7 million) to the ANC. Meanwhile, media giant Naspers has contributed R10 million ($656,000) to both the DA and ANC during the same period.

High-profile donations and political influence

Other notable contributors include members of the Oppenheimer family, who donated nearly R50 million ($3.3 million) to the DA and other parties like Rise Mzansi, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and Action SA. Capitec’s founder Michiel le Roux has also been a donor, providing R65 million ($4.3 million) to the DA and R15 million ($985,000) to former FirstRand chair Roger Jardine’s unsuccessful political campaign.

Herman Mashaba’s party, Action SA, received substantial backing from Martin Moshal, a stakeholder in Betway, who donated R30 million ($1.97 million) to the party and supported the DA as well.

Despite this, Action SA underperformed in the elections, securing just over 630,000 votes and a few seats in the National Assembly.

United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK), partially owned by US-sanctioned Russian mogul Viktor Vekselberg and the ANC’s funding arm Chancellor House, has donated more than R30 million ($1.97 million) to the ANC since 2021. 

However, UMK is currently in a dispute with the South African Revenue Service over a tax bill exceeding R350 million ($22.95 million).

The Political Party Funding Act, enforced in 2021, mandates that all donations exceeding R100,000 ($6,560) be disclosed quarterly to the IEC. Over the past four years, businesses and affluent individuals in South Africa have donated more than R300 million ($19.7 million) to political parties.

Motsepe, who became a billionaire in 2008 through his mining ventures, continues to fortify his financial standing. His 40-percent stake in ARM remains the foundation of his wealth. ARM, a leading South African mining company, boasts a diversified portfolio that includes iron, coal, copper, gold, platinum, and other precious metals.

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