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Company ‘owed’ over R100m by ANC speaks

We're making more money from ANC appeals – Ezulweni

Koena Mashale Journalist
Luthuli House, ANC headquarters in Johannesburg
Luthuli House, ANC headquarters in Johannesburg
Image: Veli Nhlapo

“The ANC can keep going to court and fighting this; but the more they fight this, the more interest we earn. This is the greatest investment that the company has ever made.”

These are the words of printing and marketing company Ezulweni Investments spokesperson Peter Fernando.

The company is owed more than R100m by the ANC for banners and posters delivered for the party’s national elections campaign in 2019.

Ezulweni has been embroiled in a bitter court battle with the governing party for four years.

Fernando on Wednesday said the ANC owed it more than R140m, including interest, and that the figure excludes legal fees.

“We’ve been in a four-year battle with the ANC. We are going ahead with the liquidation because the ANC has failed to come up with a payment plan that would cover its debt.”

Fernando said despite spending more than R1m on legal fees, they won’t back down.

“We are prepared to spend more because we are exhausted by their lack of responsibility and accountability. We did not want it to come to this because they are the democratic party that took us out of apartheid, but we have a strong case and we have done everything right. They have to do the right thing,” said Fernando.

Both the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein have ruled in favour of the company, saying the ANC must pay what is due to it.

However, following a recent judgment in the SCA which upheld the high court’s decision ruling against the ANC in the matter, the party filed an application for leave to appeal in the Constitutional Court.

A few days later, there was drama at the ANC offices where employees prevented the sheriff of the court from entering the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in the Joburg CBD.

Fernando said the sheriff would continue with the attachment of the ANC’s assets despite the ConCourt application.

In a media briefing on Wednesday, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula reiterated that the party did not owe the company.

“We stand against those attempting to manipulate this issue for political gain. Financially, the ANC is robust and resilient and assures our members of our financial stability...The ANC continues to advance in unity and strength; in other words, we fear fokol [nothing].

“I can put my head on the block that no one will liquidate the ANC. As ANC, we are not going to surrender to fraudulent matters which will lead the ANC to pay millions of rand for something that never happened,” said Mbalula.

“The ANC always meets its obligations. There are people we owe in the ANC for a long time and we have entered into terms of payment with them and it’s the first time that we are entering a fraudulent matter where people are attempting to extort millions of rand from the ANC.”

Mbalula said an internal forensic investigation by the party had revealed alleged corruption in dealings with Ezulweni. It is this report, he said, they hoped the ConCourt would consider as evidence against the deal.

In high court papers, the company said: “On May 2 2019 – some six days before the elections – [company CEO] Mr [Ranesh] Ramdas sent a WhatsApp message to Messrs [Nhlanhla] Mabaso [ ANC finance manager at the time] and [ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s former PA Lebogang] Nkholise, advising them that the logistics involved in the matter were huge and that Ezulweni had employed one hundred teams with each team having to install 300 banners.”

He said the non-payment impacted on the company negatively and two of their service providers were forced to auction most of their assets to make ends meet.

“Many households have gone hungry because of this,” said Fernando.

He said the company was founded in 2008 and is based in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.

He said it was only registered in 2014 when business started “booming”.

Its sole director is Ashnee Ramdas, 45. Ranesh is her husband.

Ezulweni Investments has no website and Fernando said they’ve never thought of creating one. He said the company has social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Fernando said the company had done business with various political parties and also got business from activists movements.

He said they rendered services to the ANC during their 2014 national elections campaign.

In an affidavit in the ConCourt, Mbablula said the contract was awarded irregularly.

“There was no compliance with these prescriptive requirements, which means that a valid contract did not come into existence. In any event, it’s contracting officials (Messrs Mabaso and Nkholise) had no authority to bind it,” said Mbalula.

mashalek@sowetan.co.za


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