Cape Town - THE ANC will investigate the sale by a Cape Town company of the almost 20-year-old iconic poster of former president Nelson Mandela displayed across the country during the first democratic elections in 1994.
Unwembi Communications, which administers some of the ruling party’s websites, including its official website and that of its parliamentary caucus, is responsible for the sale of the posters, but ANC officials this week said they were not aware of the sale.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said he was not aware of the ANC selling Mandela posters.
“We’re not selling any Mandela item,” Khoza said, adding even the party’s Mandela video footage was freely available.
Later, Khoza’s boss Jackson Mthembu told The Sunday Independent that he also did not know anything about the sale, which Unwembi Communications director Tim Jenkin admitted had been going on “for years”.
Mthembu said: “We’ll speak to them, we’ll investigate. We’re surprised as well.”
Jenkin said his company sold the posters on behalf of the ANC.
Asked if proceeds of the sale went to the ruling party entirely, Jenkin said: “I think so, I’m not quite sure. I think it (the idea of the sale) came from them in the first place.”
On the ANC website, history enthusiasts can pay up to almost R700 for the poster, depending on where they are in the world.
Local buyers are charged R250 while foreigners can pay between $50 and e48 (between R526 and R693).
The prices include the cost of posting and packaging.
A Tshwane user of international online auction giant eBay is also hoping to cash in on Mandela’s death. The user opened bids for a similar poster last week for seven days.
The poster is described as in “mint condition, archival storage since 1994 and extremely rare”.
By Monday this week, when the bidding closed, the poster had solicited 10 bids of between R10 and R413.
The poster, in which the former president sports his famous smile, has a campaign catchphrase: “Mandela for president: The people’s choice.”
The user, however, is not selling to South Africans and has indicated that the poster will be shipped only to the US.
Unwembi Communications promises to deliver in a minimum of eight weeks while the Tshwane user claims the poster will be shipped within two days of receiving a cleared payment.
The eBay poster is listed under the category “collectibles, historical memorabilia, political, international”.
eBay, the world’s largest online trading site, allows its 137 million active users to buy and sell millions of items daily.
Among its clients Unwembi Communications has the ANC’s allies, the SA Communist Party, Young Communist League, SA National Civic Organisation and Cosatu, and the federation’s affiliates, the Food and Allied Workers Union, SA Democratic Teachers Union and SA Transport and Allied Workers Union.
The company also has contracts with the Department of Health, the Mpumalanga legislature and Emnambithi-Ladysmith, Okhahlamba and Mkhambathini municipalities.
Unwembi Communications is run by ex-network manager at the Constitutional Assembly Gert Reijs and Tim Jenkin, author of Escape from Pretoria, his account of how he, Alex Moumbaris and Stephen Lee planned their 1979 escape for 18 months after being arrested for political activism.
Jenkin and his fellow escapees were later introduced to the world by then ANC president OR Tambo in Lusaka in 1980.
Yesterday, Jenkin said he was not sure if there was still stock from their supplier.
“We’ve been selling them for years,” he said, adding the supplier had printed lots of these posters.
“We had hundreds of them printed,” he said.
On the availability of the posters, Jenkin said The Sunday Independent should call at the end of next week to ascertain if there was still any existing stock.
At its 53rd national conference last December in Mangaung, the ANC decided to participate in the economy through various activities such as setting up business to provide goods and services as well as building an investment portfolio.
The party said regulation of party-linked investment vehicles should also be introduced to avoid conflict of interest, which would compromise its integrity.
According to the ruling party, the fund-raising guidelines should emphasise that fund-raising efforts should be the responsibilities of every member in the leadership in consultation with treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize’s office.
The ANC also resolved to increase membership fees from R12 to R20.