The five-year-long ANC R150 million Luthuli debt has come to an end after the ruling party agreed to an out of court settlement with KZN-based printing company, Ezulweni Investments.
This past week, the ruling party in a statement said it had agreed to terms with the company that remain a mystery as both parties have been sworn to secrecy.
There were indications that the lawyers representing both parties were still uncertain of the real terms of the settlement after the ANC announced the settlement last Friday.
The company’s legal counsel, Shafique Sarlie, told Saturday Star: “We had given the ANC till today (Friday) to propose a settlement payment. Earlier, the CEO of Ezulweni went into a one-on-one meeting with the TG (Gwen Ramakgopa) and the President (Cyril Ramaphosa). I am awaiting word from the CEO to confirm whether the matter indeed has been settled as per ANC media statement.”
This came after the ANC in a statement announced that it had reached a settlement towards the more than R150 million debt which threatened the liquidation of the ruling party and the attachment of its assets.
Early this month, the party headquarters and some of its assets were almost attached by the sheriff of the court to recover the R150 million the party allegedly owes Ezulweni Investments, one of the printing companies the party had contracted for its 2019 elections campaign.
The party has been dilly dallying when approached by the court to pay the KZN-based print company following an SCA judgment ordering the party to pay up or face liquidation.
Spokesperson for the ruling party, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, told IOL that they would not discuss the details of the agreement.
This month, the party’s secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, continued to accuse the company of fraudulently bribing two junior ANC officials to get in on the lucrative contract. He further denied any involvement with Ezulweni during the campaign.
This not being the only low point in the party’s long list of blunders, this particular deal accompanied by the party’s much-publicised struggle to pay salaries remains one the biggest blunders of the past two years.
The agreement came just weeks before party leader prepares to give his 5th January 8 statement at the helm of the country’s oldest liberation movement.
On January 13, 2024, President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead party celebration in Mbombela as he prepares the party for a tough election season.
This time around there is a real possibility that he might not return as a statesman, if all the polls and predictions are anything to go by.
It is also no secret that Ramaphosa presides over an ailing and deeply wounded ANC, which has seen its leaders leave in droves when they are not actively purged.
During this year’s January 8 statement address, Ramaphosa promised renewal of the ANC. However, on the ground, this renewal does not seem to be taking off.
Ramaphosa acknowledged this during his January statement in Mangaung: “Our people are going through tough times. They are going through difficult times at this point in time. Many people are unemployed. Many of them have lost hope of finding employment or even setting up viable businesses. Young people are most affected.”
When he delivered his first January 8 statement in 2018, Ramaphosa was full of hope and optimism for his Thuma Mina campaign on the back of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
He promised bullet trains and smart cities but failed dismally in setting up any meaningful projects and programmes of action.
“In 2018, as the African National Congress, we shall work to restore the confidence of the South African people in a shared vision for radical social and economic transformation.
“We shall confront, together, the lack of broad-based economic participation and the social marginalisation of millions of poor and landless people.
“This we shall do, proceeding from the understanding that, an equitable society is in the interest of all South Africans, whatever their race, gender or social status,” he said.