The Johannesburg high court has ordered the ANC to pay Ezulweni Investments R102 million for election banners installed before the 2019 general elections.
Ezulweni Investments, a marketing company based in KwaZulu-Natal, approached the court in September last year after the ANC failed to pay for the installation of 30,000 PVC banners on street poles across the country.
In his court papers, CEO Renash Ramdas named Nhlanhla Mabaso and Lebohang Nkholise as the Luthuli House officials who ordered the banners.
‘Mashatile did not approve installations’
In its defence, the ANC argued that it had no obligation to pay the company because Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile had not approved the installations.
“There is no evidence that [Mashatile] approved the agreement. Nor is there evidence of a purchase order. Ramdas knew or must have known he [Mashatile] was the only representative authorised to conclude the agreement,” the party argued.
However, Acting Judge U Bhoola ruled that Ezulweni Investments had proven that it had entered into a bona fide oral agreement with the ANC. Ramdas provided WhatsApp messages proving that Nkholise had given the go-ahead for the installations, Bhoola added.
The Judge further ruled that according to evidence presented in court, Nkholise and Mabaso had authority to enter into agreements on behalf of the ANC.
Ezulweni Investments also provided a letter, reportedly from ANC head of campaigns Fikile Mbalula to Mashatile, requesting payment for the banners.
“The total cost is R 87m, R2,900 per PVC banner. This letter is accompanied by an invoice from Ezulweni Investments,” the letter reportedly stated.
The ANC has not immediately reacted to the ruling. The news comes amid the party’s reported financial difficulties in recent months and frequent delays in payment of salaries to staff.
It failed to pay staff on time in December 2019, June 2020 and again in August 2020, according to reports.
It has also faced other lawsuits in the past over alleged nonpayment for services rendered. In July 2019, a car rental company based in Ekurhuleni hauled the party to court to force it to pay R5.7 million.
The payment was reportedly for 595 cars the ANC rented ahead of its NASREC conference in 2017. In January 2019, the ANC also lost its website after apparently failing to pay Unwembi Communications R32 million for various services.