ANC ordered to pay R102m after losing court case
Johannesburg - The ANC has failed to prove to court that it is not obliged to settle a R102 million debt it owed to a marketing agency that produced and installed thousands of its electioneering banners last year.
Acting Judge U Bhoola of the South Gauteng High Court has ruled that evidence Ezulweni Investments provided proved that it entered into a bona fide oral agreement with the governing party.
As a result of the agreement, Ezulweni produced and installed 30 000 PVC banners as part of the ANC’s lastpush strategy before the 2019 general elections.
It installed the banners on street poles across all provinces but the Western Cape just a week before the elections.
The party was charged R2 900 per banner for installation and R70 for removal of each banner after the elections.
But after the elections, the ANC bluntly refused to pay Ezulweni despite its numerous demands.
Chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal-based company Renash Ramdas revealed in court papers that letters to President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule went unanswered.
The ANC defended itself against the lawsuit, arguing that it had no duty to pay Ezulweni. It said the agreement the company cited was not binding because it was not authorised by the party’s treasurer-general (T-G) Paul Mashatile.
“There is no evidence that the T-G approved the agreement. Nor is there evidence of a purchase order,” said the ANC heads of arguments.
“Ramdas knew or must have known he was the only representative authorised to conclude the agreement.”
Ezulweni’s lawyers, from the Bezuidenhout Valley-based law firm Sarlie & Ismail Inc, went out of their way to prove that officials Nhlanhla Mabaso and Lebohang Nkholise were authorised by the ANC.
Based at ANC headquarters Luthuli House, finance manager Mabaso and procurement officer Nkholise agreed with Ramdas that his group would supply 30 000 banners.
Ezulweni’s papers detailed meetings and WhatsApp communication between Ramdas, Mabaso and Nkholise discussing the progress of the banners projection. “Mabaso and Nkholise admit receiving the messages from Ramdas but deny that they responded to them,” Judge Bhoola said in the judgment.
“However, on… 27 April 2019 at 12pm Nkholise responded with a ‘thumbs up’ emoji, clearly indicating their approval for the 20 000 banners (that Ramdas said could already be made available).”
A letter Mabaso and Nkholise supplied to Ramdas on April 9, 2019 as proof that all was in order added credence to Ezulwini’s position that the ANC pair were authorised.
Sent to Mashatile purportedly by election head Fikile Mbalula, it said: “This letter serves to request your office to assist us with payment for 30 000 PVC banners required for the election campaign.
“The total cost is R 87m, R2 900 per PVC banner. This letter is accompanied by an invoice from Ezulweni Investments.”
Judge Bhoola ruled that evidence before the court proved Mabaso and Nkholise had authority to enter into agreements.
The party was ordered to pay over R102m plus interest.