A known unknown?

by The Editor

SERIES: Hundreds of thousands of words are printed in South Africa’s mainstream media everyday, so many that the occassional perculiarity often passes by unnoticed. Take a moment to think about it though and the perculiar can be quite revealing. Between the Lines highlights the odd and incidental in the news. We ask the questions, you provide the answers.

Between the Lines

Cape Times
20 February 2012
Page 13

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Writing for the Cape Times, Idasa’s Judith February makes a case for more tranparency in party political funding. Good idea, the DA certainly agrees – sometime ago the party submitted a Private Members Bill designed to achieve exactly that but, predictably, the ANC would have none of it. However, in the middle of her article, she says the following:

“… limits on expenditure may be desirable. Many donors are tired of seeing their donations spent on the “poster arms race” that precedes every election. They would rather see their money spent on creating real capacity within political parties.”

Hang on. Political donations are shrouded in secrecy but Judith February has managed to canvass all political donors to get their opinion on how their donations are spent? How does she know who they are? And if she knows who they all are, what’s the problem? Either they are secret, or they aren’t. You can’t have your cake and eat it. No, what has happened here, as often happens with political commentators, is that she has simply projected as fact her own opinion onto donors, as if she knows what they think. And, actually, posters – one part of a broader communications platform during elections – are essential. Politics 101.