Bill spat between the ANC and its election supplier heats up

The head Quarters of the African National Congress ANC in Johannesburg. Albert Luthuli house in Joburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

The head Quarters of the African National Congress ANC in Johannesburg. Albert Luthuli house in Joburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 7, 2023


Johannesburg - The battle between the ANC and a marketing firm responsible for the ANC’s 2019 election campaign is heating up before the courts.

This comes after Ezulwini Investments, a company that supplied the ANC with campaign material for the 2019 general elections but was never paid for its services until it sought the court’s intervention to recoup the money, rejected the ANC’s R10 million offer.

This is according to the correspondence by the ANC’s lawyers to Ezulwini Investment’s lawyers, Sarlie and Associates, which Independent Media has seen.

In May this year, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg issued a devastating writ of execution allowing the sheriff of the court to attach goods belonging to the governing party, the ANC, and sell them to pay R102m owed to the company.

According to the letter issued by AMMM Incorporated, which is representing the ANC in the matter, the two parties met at the ANC’s headquarters on June 15, 2023, in a bid to find an amicable “out of court” solution to their R102m invoice.

"We hereby confirm that both parties herein are in ad idem and desirous to have the above matter settled out of court, as shown by a first meeting between parties herein held at your offices on June 15, 2023."

"We further confirm having conveyed what is perceived to be a counter-offer you presented at the meeting to our client, to which we are still awaiting instructions," the lawyers said.

According to the profile of the company contained in the court papers of the 2020 South Gauteng High Court matter between the two parties, the company’s services include "supplying various branded products, including PVC banners, hand flags, street pole flags, stickers, and branded clothing“.

It is reported that it supplied PVC banners to the respondent ("ANC") during its 2019 election campaign in terms of an oral agreement entered into with two ANC officials.

However, the ANC denies that an agreement was concluded and/or that the officials had the authority to conclude the agreement on its behalf.

The ANC first lost the Ezulwini matter in September 2020, when the Gauteng High Court’s Judge Urmila Bhoola ruled that the ANC must pay more than R102m including interest at 15% per annum as of 2019.

Recently, and following the writ order, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, who was at the time the ruling party’s head of elections, denied knowing of the company and its services to the ANC.

Last month’s attempt to settle the matter indicates that the ANC has been forced to acknowledge the debt.

"We, however, place on record that our client would have preferred for your client to categorically and distinctly state a somewhat middle-ground amount as a counter-offer upon rejecting our client’s offer of R10 million," the lawyers for the ruling party say.

The ANC charges that it wants to be furnished with documentary evidence of the expenses incurred by Ezulwini Investments to justify its invoice.

"Our client has further indicated that we request from your client to within five days hereof present documentary proof of expenses incurred, including invoices and custom duty payments effected when importing all the wares your client has postulated to have imported from China," the lawyers further state.

In their court papers, the company has implicated both the current and former SG, Mbalula and Ace Magashule, respectively.

The company has summoned Magashule to clarify matters, as he was SG at the time and Paul Mashatile was the treasurer-general, with Magashule’s affidavit indicating that both Mbalula and Mashatile knew about the agreement.

The Star confirmed the ongoing legal dispute with Ezulwini Investments attorney Shafique Sarlie and the latest developments, with Sarlie saying: "It is true that the parties are going through and are embroiled in settlement negotiations that have entailed offers being made and rejected and counter offers being made.

"These negotiations are ongoing, and presently there is an offer on the table for consideration. It is important to state that these negotiations are without prejudice and, as such, enjoy the privilege attached to same.

"It is also important to state that my client, Ezulweni, is resolved to bring this matter to finality in the Appeal Court asap, so he has made it clear to the ANC that the negotiations should not affect strict compliance with the rules and time limits of the SCA," the lawyer told The Star yesterday.

Attempts to get comment from the ANC's national spokesperson and secretary- general were not successful at the time of going to print.

The Star