Major funding for Rise Mzansi declared

Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 19, 2024


Recently established political party Rise Mzansi has declared that it has received more than R17 million in funding following its registration last year.

The bulk of funds come from the Oppenheimer family, with more than R15m coming from Rebecca Oppenheimer.

On Saturday, the party disclosed its funding as part of the Political Party Funding Act.

The party’s chief organiser, Makashule Gana, said this was part of deepening democracy and transparency. But the donation was not received without scrutiny as many social media users linked the party to the DA and ActionSA.

Unisa professor and political analyst Boitumelo Senokoane has linked the new project to a Jewish lobby group, saying the party’s launch was bound to happen.

“It is interesting why the Oppenheimers never funded left-thinking parties. I am interested to know the Oppenheimers’ view and the view of Rise Mzansi on the war on Gaza. I get the impression that the party may be a DA lite or a DA for black people.

“Rise Mzansi is a new party. This is its first election. My knowledge is that Songezo (Zibi, the party’s leader) is a former editor of Business Day.

“What is the party’s credibility and history in politics and governance? How did they attract such large funding even before their first polls? The new party seems to be an old project of the upper class,” Senokoane said.

Gana, one of the DA’s former leaders in Gauteng, said: “Today Rise Mzansi discloses the donors who have made contributions at the level that must be submitted and declared to the IEC (Electoral Commission of SA) as per the Political Party Funding Act.

“Political change and deepening democratic participation require significant resources.”

Rise Mzansi is not the only political newbie to be funded by the Oppenheimer family, with ActionSA also having received funding from the wealthy family in the past.

In 2021, ActionSA made headlines after it was revealed that it was funded by three members of the Oppenheimer family, including Rebecca, Victoria Freudenheim and Jessica Slack, who are the granddaughters of Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer and daughters of Mary Slack.

The family donated a total of nearly R10m to ActionSA.

Gana said new political parties such as Rise Mzansi were unlike other political parties in Parliament who receive taxpayer funding ‒ new parties rely on their private citizens to fund their political activities.

“Unlike established political parties represented in Parliament and provincial legislatures, new political parties such as Rise Mzansi do not get taxpayer funding. It is private citizens who are committed to democracy that enable us to do the work we do,” said Gana.

Even though there have been protestations from concerned South Africans upon realising that the party was funded by the Oppenheimers, Gana said the party did not accept funds from “just anyone”, including foreign entities and governments.

“That said, we do not accept funds from just anyone, foreign entities or foreign governments. We also do not accept donations where we suspect the funds may be the proceeds of crime; or where prospective donors want to unduly influence our policies, politics and decision-making processes.

“All our existing donors support us because they believe in our commitment to build a safe, prosperous, equal and united country where people live in happiness and dignity in one generation. They also accept the conditions set out above,” he said.

The party also received R1m in donations from Main Street 1564 (Pty) Ltd, as well as other in-kind donations from Kairos Communications (Pty) Ltd and InJozi Design cc.

The Star