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More questions than answers


How many residents could not even have a glass of Sol Plaatje’s water while those guests enjoyed expensive beverages?

Picture: Wikus De Wet/AFP

I GUESS after all these years it shouldn’t surprise me any more at the amount of money being thrown around to fund political parties ahead of the upcoming national elections.

Each year the funds swell more and more – it seriously is mind-boggling.

Just last week when Cyril Ramaphosa attended a gala fund-raising event in the city, a portrait of Oliver Tambo was sold for R1 million.

Yes, I actually do understand the concept of you need to sell something for more than you paid for it. What I’m wondering is, did the artist actually get paid close to what it was sold for or was he caught up in the hype and donated it for the good of the cause?

What really is a concern is that you the taxpayer – for now – pay for these lavish events which we are not invited to. How many families went to bed hungry last Friday night while those who attended the gala event enjoyed a gourmet meal?

How many residents could not even have a glass of Sol Plaatje’s water while those guests enjoyed expensive beverages?

And after enjoying the lavishness of the event, they climbed into their chauffeur-driven or luxury cars to their not so humble abodes while many had to spend the night on the street.

Now some political parties claim that the money they receive from the IEC – via the taxpayer – is not enough and that they have to supplement these funds from private donors.

Now my extremely rudimentary understanding of politics is going to come out now. This is what my mind is telling me: The aim of an election is to entice voters to vote for a particular party. Question: How is paying millions to attend a gala function – to which your voter base isn’t invited – going to gain you any more votes?

Now that you are holding the millions you collected in your sweaty palms, what are you actually going to do with that money? Are you travelling first class between Kimberley and Barkly West to try and woo potential voters?

I decided to go and Google as to how funds are spent during an election.

Overseas, millions were spent on advertising posters; radio, TV and print adverts. Now, going back to my very limited understanding, this doesn’t really apply here in South Africa. Here everyone just about does what they please. It is common knowledge that the state broadcaster is (mis)used by some parties to get their message across. So no money spent there. At most you are probably looking at an approximately R5-10 million budget – and that is being generous.

What happens to the rest of the money?

Maybe it goes to election staff? As far as I have heard, volunteers outnumber actual paid staff. Some parties also make use of their internal staff who receive a monthly salary.

To me there are more questions than answers. At this point the bigger the party – the bigger the slice of pie (and money) they receive to drive their campaigns.

Now, however, a new bill will be implemented on April 1 where everybody will get the same amount of funding and private donors will have to be declared.

I just fail to see how money can be thrown into the water for an election campaign when there are more pressing needs on the ground.

To me, actions speak louder than words … so instead of throwing lavish gala functions to fund your campaign rather throw a lavish gala function and use the funds to the benefit of all our citizens.