Cape ANC defiant in face of debt

The ANC still owes R1.8-million to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the provincial conference it held there last year. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ANC still owes R1.8-million to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the provincial conference it held there last year. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ANC in the Western Cape has recently had its office furniture attached by the sheriff of the court and its phone line cut for nonpayment of debt.

Yet ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the apparent lack of funds would not deter the party from striving to achieve its goal of taking back the province from the Democratic Alliance in 2014.

“Just because our furniture has been attached does not mean the end of the ANC in the Western Cape,” Mjongile told the Mail & Guardian. “We are a resilient party. We have been loaned furniture and computers and our office is up and running.”

Asked whether it could still campaign without its own computers and database, Mjongile said it was all about getting out to the people.

“Campaigning is done at grass roots,” he said.
“You can’t campaign just by sitting in an office.”

Outstanding debt
Mjongile said ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa was going to step in to help the party to settle an outstanding debt of about R1.8-million it owes to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The office furniture and computer equipment were removed by the sheriff of the court from the party’s Thibault Square office last week and will be sold at a public auction in July unless a solution is found shortly, the Mail & Guardian has established.

A Telkom operator said the phone lines of the Western Cape ANC were cut two months ago because it owed about R141000.

The ANC’s long-standing battle with the convention centre over the debt has twice escalated to the courts after the party hosted its provincial elective conference at the centre in February last year.

At the event, Marius Fransman was elected as chairperson of the Western Cape ANC after his rival, former chairperson Mcebisi Skwatsha, refused to stand for nomination and alleged the proceedings were “fraudulent”.

Motion of no confidence
Following the party’s provincial general council last weekend, Fransman claimed the ANC planned to boot out the DA in 2014.

The M&G was informed there were plans to introduce a motion of no confidence in Fransman at the provincial general council, but this did not happen. Disaffected branch members believe Fransman should give up his position as deputy minister of international relations and co-operation to take up a vocal role in the provincial legislature, ANC sources say.

Meanwhile, the DA’s Western Cape leader, Theuns Botha, has hit back at Fransman’s assertions, saying the ANC stood no chance of taking over the reins in the province and describing its leadership as “morally bankrupt”.

Asked about the financial woes of the ANC’s provincial office this week, Fransman referred the M&G to the ANC provincial treasurer, Fezile Calana, who could not be reached for comment.

The convention centre’s chief executive, Rashin Toefy, confirmed that the ANC’s R1.8-million debt was still outstanding.

“However, the CTICC has been engaging with both the national and provincial ANC treasury to resolve this matter amicably,” said Toefy. “We successfully negotiated a payment plan in late 2011, but this repayment schedule was not honoured.”

Legal recourse
To avoid any further legal recourse, the centre now requires the ANC to settle the account in full, or to recommit and honour the repayment plan, he said.

The sheriff of the court has attached the party’s furniture on a previous occasion because of the debt, but the ANC went to court to have the order set aside.

Mjongile did not try to defend the party over the debt, which he said would be paid back as soon as possible.

The Western Cape ANC relies on donations from members and its supporters to run campaigns and conferences for its 274 branches in the province.

“We are hoping there will be changes to the national policy to assist our funding in future,” said Mjongile.

The ANC is to recommend the regulation of private and foreign donors and has mooted that taxpayers foot the bill for party-political election campaigns.

Vexed issue
Phosa spoke out on the vexed issue of funding at the party’s two-day finance policy development workshop in Johannesburg earlier this month. National, provincial and regional treasurers held discussions about political-party funding and will make recommendations to the party’s policy conference, which is being held from June 26 to June 29 at Gallagher Estate.

“South Africa is moving into dangerous and challenging territory. The private funding of political parties is unregulated,” Business Day quoted Phosa as saying after the talks. “Public funding is insufficient for the needs of our parties.”

Phosa called for public funding to be significantly increased and said both the public and political parties should know who had made donations. Integrity mechanisms should be introduced to ensure conflicts of interest were managed. He warned that, if reforms were not instituted now, the corrupting effects of money would get worse.

Transparency of funding sources has always been a contentious issue. In May, the ANC and the trustees of murdered mining magnate Brett Kebble reached an out-of-court settlement about a donation he made to the party before his death.

Phosa has confirmed agreement was reached that the ANC would repay the money Kebble donated to it in 2004. It is believed this was done to avoid a controversial court case.

DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said the party would welcome multiparty discussion on promoting accountable and transparent funding. However, it would not be happy to make “burdened” taxpayers cough up further for party funding.

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country. Read more from Glynnis Underhill

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