ANC suffers another humiliating court defeat over R102m election banners debt
Johannesburg - The cash-strapped ANC has suffered another court defeat in its bid to avoid paying a marketing agency that it owes R102 million for electioneering banners.
Acting Judge U Bhoola ruled at the high court in Joburg that the party’s application to appeal a September judgment which found it obligated to pay Ezulweni Investments had no prospects of success.
Judge Bhoola ruled two months ago that all evidence before her proved that Ezulweni entered into a bona fide oral agreement with the ANC to produce and install the banners as part of the party’s last-push efforts ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“There is no reasonable prospect of success nor is there any other compelling reason why leave to appeal should be granted,” said Bhoola in a judgment delivered last week.
“In the result, I make (this) order: The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs, including the costs of two counsel.”
The ANC sought leave to appeal on grounds that Judge Bhoola erred in finding that there was a binding agreement between the party and Ezulweni.
The ANC maintained that its officials, Nhlanhla Mabaso and Lebohang Nkholise, who gave Ezulweni boss Renash Ramdas the go-ahead, were not authorised by treasurer-general Paul Mashatile to do so.
Based at ANC headquarters Luthuli House, finance manager Mabaso and procurement officer Nkholise had agreed with Ramdas that his group would supply 30 000 banners.
The party was charged R2 900 a banner for installation and R70 for removal of each banner after the elections.
Nkholise deposed an affidavit before Judge Bhoola in which he denied that Ezulweni was contracted to produce and install the banners. But his evidence was unconvincing, the judge found.
“On 4 April 2019, the (ANC) was presented with two invoices by (Ezulweni). It raised no objection to these invoices, but in addition Nkholise prepared the 9 April letter to the treasurer-general requesting that the invoices should be paid,” said Judge Bhoola.
“This means he regarded the invoices as being due and payable. His explanation that he prepared the letter to put it before Mr (Fikile) Mbalula is unconvincing, to say the least.
“In any event his evidence, that the letter was not approved by Mr Mbalula or sent, constitutes hearsay. No confirmatory affidavit of Mr Mbalula is provided…
“In these circumstances, where the existence of the letter was not disputed, the most probable inference is that the letter was sent to the treasurer-general after being approved by Mr Mbalula.”
Nkholise also claimed that the “final design” sent to Ezulweni just before it produced the banners meant nothing.
“The explanation of the (ANC) that the design was provided ‘for information purposes’ makes no sense if it is alleged there was no contract in place.
“If this was not the case, there is no reason why the applicant would need the ‘ final design’. If Nkholise and Mabaso were trying to convey that there was no contract in place there is no reason why they would send the final design for a banner to (Ezulweni).’’
The ANC’s financial troubles have been laid bare in recent months. It was not able to pay its employees their August and September salaries on time.