DEBT & DISORDER
ANC in trouble as high court sheriff attempts asset seizure over R102-million election banner debt
Despite nine judges in three different courts ruling that the ANC had a binding contract with Ezulwini Investments for election banners ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party has failed to pay the R102-million debt plus interest and costs, leading to an attempted attachment of its assets.
The ANC faces more trouble with the law after blocking access to the Sheriff of the Gauteng high court in Johannesburg which sought to attach its physical assets on Monday.
This is in connection with the R102-million debt, plus interest and costs which it owes Ezulwini Investments for election banners and other campaign material featuring President Cyril Ramaphosa, which helped clinch a win for the party in the 2019 elections.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections material company gets a third writ of attachment against ANC, this time for R150-million
Ezulweni is a small Newcastle-based company which has now secured three attachment orders against the ANC. Its owners incurred debt to quickly produce the party’s banners before the 2019 election.
On Monday 4 December, a truck of the Sheriff was spotted outside the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House. A writ of execution which Daily Maverick has seen, was also served on the party to attach and take movable goods such as furniture, laptops, and printers. These would be then sold by public auction to recoup R102,465,000 plus interests and costs.
Co-owner of Ezulwini, Peter Fernando said the company would stop at nothing to get its money back as the ruling party was blatantly disregarding court processes.
This as the homes of several employees have been attached, and the party owes local and Chinese suppliers, Daily Maverick previously reported.
“Our attorney is going to be getting authorisation for the Sheriff to break the locks and gain access to the premises. We are going to go all the way because from our point of view, the ANC is undermining the judicial processes,” said Fernando.
“We won all the cases in the different courts and they still don’t abide by the decision, they are trying to see where or how they can get away with this. There is no way they will get away with this thing, we have been fighting this case for four and half years, it has cost us millions of rands despite the fact that they too owe us millions,” he told Daily Maverick.
The party’s national spokesperson, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
The latest writ of execution is one of the party’s many ongoing woes. The party’s website crashed when it failed to pay a service provider, and its archive is now hosted on a different domain name. In 2021 and 2022, staff held regular protests at Luthuli House for unpaid salaries, UIF and pension contributions.
Previously, Ezulweni applied to seize assets worth more than R102-million from the ANC after the party refused to pay it despite two judgments in the company’s favor: one handed down in September 2020, and an appeal heard by a full bench of the Johannesburg high court in June 2022.
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In the high court appeal ruling, the three judges said the ANC’s defence was “far-fetched”. The ANC applied to the SCA for leave to appeal that ruling, but the appeal lapsed.
After Ezulweni obtained the writ of execution in 2022, the ANC reinstated the appeal, which was heard early in November.
In addition to having its assets taken, the party also faces possible liquidation which could jeopardise it from contesting the 2024 national elections.
To prevent the seizure of its assets, the ANC had reportedly approached the Constitutional Court.
The ANC has until close of business on 6 December 2023, either to pay the full judgment debt into its Ezulweni’s trust account, the failure of which will see Ezulwini Investments proceed with the liquidation process.
“It must expressly be recorded that payment by your client of the judgment debt into your trust account, alternatively, the provision of acceptable and satisfactory security as demanded hereinbefore, will result in our client not proceeding with its application for liquidation,” said an attorney’s letter to the ANC’s legal team.
To date, nine Judges in three different courts have now ruled that Ezulwini Investments had a binding contract with the ANC and the party owes millions of rands for the supply of election banners ahead of the May 2019 general elections, Daily Maverick has reported.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC liable for over R100-million in 2019 elections banners fiasco – Supreme Court of Appeal ruling
Fernando said ANC treasurer general Gwen Ramokgopa had previously met with the company owners in a bid to settle the matter out of court. However, the talks fell through as the ANC had offered them a “ridiculous’”amount on the basis that, “they were going to give us some work for the 2024 elections, then they were going to pay this and that bill in small portions”. DM