The ANC Youth League liquidation case, postponed until March 24 at the high court in Johannesburg, will raise questions about the league's mysteriously vanished assets.
The case will also potentially give liquidators scope to interrogate the financial affairs of the ruling ANC – possibly in close range of the national elections this year.
The operations of the two organisations appear to be linked and a liquidator, in terms of the Insolvency Act, will have power to search for any assets in the mother party's books too, according to legal experts.
Now legal representatives arguing for the league's liquidation are asking questions about its assets – or lack thereof. The sheriff reportedly twice tried to seize youth league assets, but found there were none.
The league closed down its controversial investment wing Lembede Investment Holdings in 2009 and transferred all its assets to a development trust tasked with "fundraising and social responsibility programmes of the ANC Youth League", according to then president Julius Malema.
The league was initially provisionally liquidated by acting judge Tony Mundell in November 2013. Mundell held off making the liquidation permanent, given the "proud role" the youth league has played in the past, and currently still plays in the political and cultural life of the country.
The league had until Monday to make representations against the liquidation being made final.
But both legal teams merely submitted the same arguments, according to lawyers for Z2 Presentations. Both arguments centred on a technical argument as the facts of the case are not in dispute: the league has failed to pay events company Z2 Presentation nearly R15-million for its 2008 national congress in Mangaung in the Free State, which saw the election of now-expelled Malema.
Should the judge agree with the November ruling of Mundell, which is likely given that the same arguments are being made, the provisional liquidation will be made final – either immediately on March 24 or in a written judgment at a much later stage.
If the former, the liquidators can immediately start searching for assets, even if the league’s lawyers were to succeed in appealing the ruling – which they are likely to do. This is thanks to a provision in the Insolvency Act that allows liquidators to continue their work in searching for assets, even if they cannot dispose of them without the permission of the league.
"What has happened to those assets no one seems to know," one of the lawyers involved told the Mail & Guardian.
"Sinister stuff has gone on with the assets."
Advocate Dirk Vetten, who represented Z2 Presentations, said it must be determined what had happened to the league's assets, the Witness reported. He said thousands of its members pay fees to the organisation, and it receives donations and conducts fundraising campaigns. This justifies an investigation into the ANC to determine whether some of the youth league's assets were held by the parent body, he said.
The league's current leaders in the form of the national task team did not respond to calls for comment, or the status of the trust.