ANC says its financial situation has stabilised as party sends 20 member delegation to the Far East on a Chinese study trip

Published Jun 11, 2023


The ANC has denied speculation that the state coffers were plundered to finance a two-week “study trip” to China.

The ruling party claimed that it had a “warchest” at its headquarters in Luthuli House, and that its financial woes had ended.

A 20-member delegation, led by its Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, set off on the sojourn to the Far East on Sunday, June 4 and is expected back in the country on Wednesday after criss-crossing the vast Chinese mainland meeting the who’s who of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This week, the ANC said that the group, which included all nine provincial secretaries of the ANC and other members of the National Executive Committee, had been tasked with learning aspects of party-building and solidifying its relationship with the CCP.

With the ANC having recently been plagued with financial woes, including the failure to pay staff their salaries and some of its assets being put up for sale, questions arose on the financing of the trip.

An internet search on flights showed various prices on different airlines for round trip business class flights from Johannesburg to Beijing.

On Cathay Pacific, a round trip would cost R47 889, while a similar flight on Qatar Airways would be R65 757.

Singapore Airlines and Emirates were more costly at R72 461 and R75 253 respectively.

While ANC National spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri was not forthcoming on the cost of the trip, which airline was used and how the trip was financed, she said it was a party-to-party trip that was about solidifying already existing relationships and that the ANC was financially stable to afford it.

“It’s funded within the country’s laws, you won’t get an answer from me that says it was funded by the ANC or it was funded by the Chinese Communist Party, but it’s a trip between brothers and sisters and if you’re a family and you share the same ideological perspectives you then climb in together to make things happen.

“To try and bring in the state of party finances and the trip to China and how it has been funded is a long stretch because the ANC has got its own balance sheet and the ANC manages its balance sheet quite diligently,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.

The ANC was hauled to the Gauteng High Court by Ezulwini Investments in 2020 after the party had failed to pay the company R102 million after it had supplied the ANC with campaign material in the lead-up to the 2019 general elections.

Ezulwini sought relief from the court which last month issued a writ of execution granting permission to the sheriff to attach assets of the ANC and sell them off in order to pay the R102m owed to Ezulwini.

Bhengu-Motsiri added that the ANC’s finances had “stabilised strongly” with staff now being paid and the party was managing its business as best as possible.

“The trip to China is one of the many party engagements, it’s something that cannot be taken away from the other. The ANC is stable and the ANC is able to afford to pay its creditors, so we are basically servicing our creditors very well and paying our staff on time,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.

She added that the narrative about the financial instability of the ANC was just a narrative from those who wanted to peddle it.

“It’s about long-standing bases and the relationship with the Communist Party of China, in fact almost every three to five years the ANC leadership always meets with our Chinese counterparts, the Communist Party of China,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.

She said the link-up was for the critical exchange of views on political education and party building amongst other things.

The party’s @MyANC Twitter handle was abuzz with updates on various meetings with different leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, including a visit by the ANC delegation to a village in the rural parts of China.

“The purpose of this visit was to gain an understanding of China’s approach to rural development, which is based on assessing the economic potential of each rural region and investing in building its industrial and technological capabilities for employment creation,” the ANC said on its Twitter page.

Mbalula and his entourage also met with Qiu Jiang, member of the Standing Committee and Secretary General of the CPC Yunnan Provincial Committee, to discuss in detail the overall CPC strategy for provincial, regional and local economic development.

In another meeting, ANC Treasurer-General Gwen Ramokgopa led a delegation of NEC members to meet the director general, Wang Heming of the Bureau of Sub-Saharan African Affairs, and members from the Bureau of Research of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee to exchange ideas on the BRICS Plus Political Parties Dialogue that will be held in South Africa from July 18 to 20.