ANC's unpaid bill may scupper anniversary bash

The ruling party still owes R1.5-million for using the Cape Town International Convention Centre to host its 2011 provincial conference. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ruling party still owes R1.5-million for using the Cape Town International Convention Centre to host its 2011 provincial conference. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ANC’s bad credit record could jeopardise the party’s plans to hold its 103rd anniversary celebrations at the Cape Town Stadium.

The party announced earlier this month that its national executive committee has decided to hold its annual birthday rally at the stadium on January 10 next year. The event, known as January 8, is organised by the ANC’s national office.

“The event hopes to reactivate the mass character of the ANC, which is nonracial, as well as ensure that all members build the unity of purpose of the movement,” said the ANC’s Western Cape secretary, Songezo Mjongile, when he made the announcement.

Mjongile said the ANC would use the rally as part of its preparations for the 2016 local government elections.

Now the Democratic Alliance-led Cape Town metropolitan council is insisting that the ANC pays the full rental amount upfront if it wants access to the World Cup stadium, because of an old debt the ANC has with one of the facilities in which the city is a shareholder.

Outstanding bill
Almost four years ago, in February 2011, the ANC hired the Cape Town International Convention Centre for its provincial conference. It has yet to pay the R1.5-million bill.

This week, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for finance, Ian Neilson, said the council was aware that the ANC’s debt to the convention centre was still outstanding, despite the party’s many promises to honour it.

The standard policy for hiring the stadium is for any potential client to pay upfront, but sometimes the city will negotiate the terms. For example, in the case of a football match the council may pocket the gate takings in lieu of services provided.

Neilson said: “Due to this organisation’s poor payment record, no access will be allowed to the stadium before the full amount due has been paid, and no payment arrangements will be offered or accepted.

“We wouldn’t consider any kind of package with the ANC that we sometimes would consider,” he added.

Mayoral committee member Garreth Bloor confirmed that the ANC had applied to use the Cape Town Stadium. He said the application had been approved, subject to certain payment conditions. The convention centre confirmed that the ANC still owed it R1.5?million.

Planning to pay
The ANC’s provincial treasurer, Fezile Calana, said the party was planning to pay its debt – “and all our debts” – as it raises funds.

He said he was aware of the arrangement with the city that the ANC would have to pay upfront for the use of the city’s facilities due to the debt.

It is not clear how much the city will charge the ANC for hiring the stadium. Bloor said the final costs to hire the stadium were still being calculated and that these would be in accordance with the city’s approved tariffs. In addition, the stadium’s direct service costs – such as security and cleaning – and city-related expenses such as traffic management were still being established.

In 2011, the May Day rally of Cosatu’s Western Cape branch was moved to the Athlone Stadium after the federation failed to raise the R1.3-million all-inclusive cost of hiring the Cape Town Stadium.

The ANC’s Keith Khoza said the party did not have a problem paying the full amount in advance. He said the ANC started making upfront payments for venues during the election campaign to avoid incurring new debt.

“As a result, after the elections we were left with no debt,” he said.

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