MTN’s political sponsorship

Mobile operator MTN says it has not yet taken a decision on whether to provide donations to political parties in the run up to the South African general election of 2014, having done so in the 2009 campaign.

It follows an admission by listed brewer, SABMiller, that it will donate R9 million to six political parties leading up to 2014.

The political parties include the African National Congress, the Democratic Alliance, the Congress of the People, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement and the Freedom Front Plus.

“Political progress will remain vital to the country’s continued stability and growth but this progress requires funding and significant human resources. This is an extremely important cause and it deserves our support,” said SABMiller executive chairman Graham Mackay.

MTN group chief HR & corporate affairs officer, Paul Norman, told BusinessTech:

“In 2009, MTN approved an allocation of funding for political parties in relation to the general elections in South Africa of approximately R13 million. MTN’s policy on distribution is adapted from the Independent Electoral Commission’s distribution model. And the principle of proportionality in the South African Parliament informs the distribution of the funding.

“MTN has not made a decision on donations for the elections in 2014.”

Vodacom, however, said it was policy to not make party donations. “It’s our policy that we do not make political party donations, so no plans for 2014,” spokesperson Richard Boorman told BusinessTech.

“We are proactive and are thought leaders in our engagement with governments and other stakeholders, but do not make political party contributions,” Vodacom said in its integrated report for 2012.

South Africa’s leading political parties have been clear on the topic of political donations, despite calls for more transparency.

“The DA makes a commitment of confidentiality to our donors,” party leader Helen Zille said a January newsletter.

“Ideally, the DA would prefer full transparency but if we were the only party to apply it most of our donations would dry up, together with any prospect of sustaining democracy.”

On Tuesday (14 May) the ANC said it wanted to keep donations a secret. “No party should be compelled to divulge the name of its funders,” Zweli Mkhize, the ANC’s treasurer-general, told Bloomberg.

“We do not want someone to be compromised simply for supporting a party he wishes to support or has approached him.”

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MTN’s political sponsorship