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ANC ordered to pay service provider R100m for election campaign branded goods

The ANC has to pay R100 million for the branded goods it ordered and received for its 2019 election campaign. Picture: File

The ANC has to pay R100 million for the branded goods it ordered and received for its 2019 election campaign. Picture: File

Published Jul 1, 2022

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Pretoria - The ANC will have to fork out more than R100 million for the branded goods such as banners it ordered and received for its 2019 election campaign, but didn’t pay for.

The party had later said the contract was invalid because of non-compliance with the requirements of its internal supply chain policy.

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Following the non-payment of their bill, Ezulweni Investments, which ­supplied the branded items to the ANC, turned to the high court in Johannesburg to enforce the payment. The court ruled in its favour, but the ANC took the matter on appeal before three judges of this division.

The party argued that the high court was wrong in rejecting the ANC's defence to the claims based on the fact that, according to the party, the contract for the rendering of the services and the supply of material was invalid because of non-compliance with the requirements of the internal supply chain policy of the ANC.

The ANC denied that there was a valid oral agreement between it and ­Ezulweni for the supply and, later, removal of the banners.

The ANC pleaded that no contract came into existence. It claimed its internal requirements for the conclusion of the contract in question were flouted.

The internal requirements were laid down in its supply chain policy, which required that the provision of services in relation to the election was conditional on, among other things, approval by the elections committee and its treasurer-general.

This, the ANC argued, didn’t happen. Thus it argued that there was no valid contract in place. It said the officers who signed for the goods didn’t have the authority to do so.

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Prior to the 2019 national elections, the CEO of Ezulweni Investments did a presentation at the ANC headquarters at Luthuli House for the supply of the branded goods for the election campaign.

The ANC placed an order with ­Ezulweni to supply it with 30 000 PVC banners, which Ezulweni agreed to do, installed on street poles and polling stations, and remove them after the elections.

Several meetings were held between the parties and Ezulweni commenced with the production and manufacturing of the banners.

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The ANC confirmed that they were kept abreast of the developments throughout the course of the production of the banners.

These included pictures being sent to the ANC by Ezulweni, depicting banners which had already been put up on street poles and other structures around the country.

In March 2019, as a result of the substantial financial outlay which Ezulweni had to commit itself to in the manufacturing process, the contractor sought assurance from the ANC – in the form of a formal order or a “demonstrative command” – that it would pay.

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The ANC provided Ezulweni with a letter of confirmation on its formal letterhead dated April 2, 2019, signed by the head of elections at the time, Fikile Mbalula, which was also sent to other officials in charge of procurement in the party.

Two days later Ezulweni forwarded two invoices, one in respect of the manufacture and sale of the banners, and the other in respect of the installation and removal of the banners to the officials.

These remained unpaid.

Judge Leicester Adams, who wrote the appeal judgment, said the letter written by Mbalula was a clear acknowledgement of the ANC's liability in terms of the invoice that had been received from Ezulweni.

The ANC’s financial officer, Nhlanhla Mabaso, in the ANC’s answering affidavit, explained that the letter was prepared by another official, who had attached to it the electronic signature of Mbalula.

The idea was, Mabaso said, that the letter would at some point be placed before Mbalula for confirmation.

This apparently didn’t happen, as the official didn’t get the opportunity to discuss the contents of the letter with Mbalula before the elections.

The ANC said that this meant that the order and the contents of the letter weren’t confirmed by Mbalula. Nor were the contents seen or approved by the elections committee.

Judge Adams rejected this allegation as absurd and found that there was a valid contract, thus the ANC had to pay what it owed.

Pretoria News

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