South Africa: Selling Our Democracy to Foreign Corporations


South African law allows citizens to know who is funding their political parties, a right granted after a hard-fought legal battle. But a major flaw is still that foreign corporations are allowed to fund parties, and thus, indirectly, influence government policy that affects the way in which they do business. Xolobeni is a case in point, writes Lukhanyiso Hogana.

There seems to be a consensus among South African pundits that the right to vote is an effective remedy to cure societal problems. Behind the veneer of such consensus, however, lies unpleasant truth. Democracy, as practised in South Africa, is priced well beyond its actual value. The electorate does not have real power, and whatever real power it gets through the vote is shared with those who privately fund our political parties.

The idea that private funders can direct the policy direction of political parties is not limited to South Africa. It is a standard global practice for businesses to give donations to political parties. Unfortunately, the seemingly invariable consequence of such a practice is that the latter, once in power, devise policies or acts in a manner which benefits the former. The electorate in America was prudent enough to spot...

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