2016-04-18

The internal financial structures of several African countries' dominant political parties that are performing as corporatised multinationals in monopolised state power structures: Angola’s MPLA, Zimbabwe's ZANU, and Namibia’s SWAPO.

The question of political party financing has never been more critical to the public interest than in the wake of the Panama Papers. This is especially true of Africa's dominant political parties that comprise ‘forever governments’ – such as resource-rich Angola’s MPLA, Namibia’s SWAPO, Botswana’s BDP, and Zimbabwe’s ZANU.

Here, political landscapes are characterised by confidentiality surrounding political party investors, corruption, gross illicit financial flows and formal economies dominated by large corporations often bearing ties to ‘joint ventures’ (JVs) with governments. And while in theory these countries are described as possessing systems of electoral democracy, in practice, this simply means an opportunity to vote – or not - for the dominant party that will win anyway, with little to no opportunity to effect a change in policies concerning water, waste, resources, infrastructure or energy.

What value then for democracy, accountability and constitutional rights in a system where unknown investors – or buyers – can purchase or influence how the country is run and by whom? More importantly, what is the internal financing and financial structure of dominant political parties and regimes that, as research shows, appears to perform as multinationals, often using legal and financial opacity including secrecy jurisdictions? In what ways do these political parties act as stable business partners for companies, increasing secrecy with JVs rather than as elected representatives of citizens? To what extent did dominant political parties, formerly freedom fighting movements, cut their teeth on the ‘offshore’ during the battle against colonialism? How does this differ, if at all, from authoritarian and corrupt regimes such as Sudan?

Using prior and current investigations to unravel the systemic functions of these structures, the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) has produced a series probing individual case studies as well as investigative analysis, extending to intermediaries and structural gaps in the global financial architecture. What emerges is a high stakes game intimately tied to the loss of illicit revenue from Africa, estimated at $150 billion annually. The series is co-funded with the World Wide Web Foundation

This investigation was funded through Journalismfund.eu's Connecting Continents programme.

Photo Independence Memorial © jbdodane

Khadija Sharife

Khadija Sharife is an investigative writer and researcher based in South Africa.

John Grobler

John Grobler is a veteran investigative reporter based in Windhoek, Namibia. 

Micael Pereira

Micael Pereira is a Portuguese journalist based in Lisbon, where he has been a staff writer for the Expresso newspaper since 2006.

Heinrich Bohmke

Heinrich Bohmke is ANCIR's investigator, trainer and prosecutorial editor based in South Africa.

Supported
Grant of €14.500 allocated on 14 July 2015
ID
CC/2015/010

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