The ANC says it will appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that ordered it to pay a service provider more than R100 million as it faces a looming threat of liquidation.
On Friday, the SCA upheld a decision by the Gauteng High Court which ruled against the ANC in a dispute with KwaZulu-Natal-based Ezulweni Investments which had provided the party with banners and campaign materials for the 2019 elections.
Two previous lower court rulings in 2020 and 2022 granted Ezulweni permission to seize assets worth more than R102m from the ANC after the party did not pay its debt.
The debt, including interest, has now risen to close to R150m.
Shafique Sarlie, the attorney representing Ezulweni told a national broadcaster on Monday, that his clients were considering seizing and selling assets belonging to the ANC to recoup what was owed to the company.
He said the company was looking at assets including Luthuli House and ANC bank accounts that it could attach.
Sarlie said they had copies of the ANC’s financial statements and a list of all the assets that were available for attachment.
“Ultimately, of course, if the judgment is not satisfied in full, we will contemplate liquidating the ANC. That will have enormous implications for the party, inter alia, with the IEC. I am not so sure if the IEC will allow them to contest the elections if they are in liquidation,” he said.
ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu Motsiri said the party will appeal the decision of the SCA in the Ezulweni matter in the Constitutional Court.
“Having studied the judgment the ANC is of the view that SCA did not consider new evidence which has emerged from a forensic report which reveals crucial evidence that makes it plain that there was no authorisation for the transactions in question, and certain implicated individuals misrepresented their positions and authority.”
In court papers, Ezulweni said in January 2019, it approached the ANC for a presentation for the supply of election banners, their placement and removal for the new election campaign.
The meeting was attended by Ezulweni CEO Renash Ramdas, who said he is a long-standing and loyal member of the ANC, then ANC financial manager
Nhlanhla Mabaso and Fikile Mbalula’s personal assistant Lebohang Nkholise, at the Garden Court Hotel in Eastgate.
Ramdas through a different company had provided election banners and materials to the ANC for the 2014 elections.
“Thereafter, Ramdas ‘constantly communicated with (Nkholise and Mabaso) and kept them abreast of the progress of the project’”, with photographs shared with them to update on the progress of the materials, according to Ezulweni.
The company said it made several attempts to get the ANC to pay the money and approached then treasurer-general Paul Mashatile who acknowledged receipt and said the “matter is receiving attention, I will revert to you in due course”.
After the 2019 election, final invoices for R100 050 000 and R2 415 000 were sent to the party, but no response was received.
The ANC in court papers said while it acknowledged that the meetings were held with Mabaso and Nkholise, no agreement was negotiated or concluded at any of the meetings.
“The sole content of the meetings, and the sole purpose of Mabaso and Nkholise attending them, was to convey to Ramdas that only Mashatile could authorise election material, and that a purchase order had to be issued before any agreement could be concluded,” the ANC said.
On Friday, Judge Trevor Gorven said the ANC’s version that it had no contract with Ezulweni was untenable.
The SCA said the letters requesting payment were not immediately responded to stating that there was no agreement between the parties and the only letter sent in response said that the matter would be looked into.
“All of these factors, and more besides, demonstrate overwhelmingly that the version put up by the ANC as to the interaction between Ramdas, Mabaso and Nkholise is utterly untenable and without veracity,” the SCA said.
“The ANC’s version is not capable of belief in face of the cascade of communications from Ramdas that were met with deafening silence from the ANC.
The only credible response of an entity in the position of the ANC, if its version was true, would have been immediately to set the record straight so as to prevent Ezulweni proceeding at risk.”