/ 7 December 2023

Ramaphosa to intervene in Ezulweni debt matter

Switzerland Ilo Labour Summit Politics Gender
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in trying to solve the ANC’s R150 million debt to Ezulweni Investments, has told party leaders that he will handle the scandal himself, starting by consulting the party’s lawyers. 

Members of the national working committee (NWC) told the Mail & Guardian that Ramaphosa made the announcement during its meeting this week. 

“The president is a lawyer and he wants to see if the ANC has any prospects of winning this case in the constitutional court. He told us that he wants to review the evidence we have and what was presented in the courts,” a NWC insider said. 

The ANC has lodged an application to the constitutional court in a bid to halt the lower courts’ orders to have it pay R102 million with interest to Ezulweni Investments, after it failed to pay for the printing and installation of 30 000 banners for the party’s 2019 election campaign.

The NWC insiders said that ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula motivated the party to proceed with its bid to have the apex court find in its favour during the committee’s meeting. 

While addressing the media on Wednesday, Mbalula again accused Ezulweni and the ANC’s staff members of having fraudulently entered into a contract during its 2019 elections campaign. 

Mbalula said the ANC had approved a different firm and not Ezulweni Investments. 

Mbalula’s arguments have already been thwarted by the high court and the appellate. 

“The alleged debt by Ezulweni was surprising given our lack of engagement with them. Upon learning of this supposed debt we initiated an investigation to understand its origins. It emerged that two junior staff members, without authorisation from either myself and the TG [then treasurer general Paul Mashatile] had been dealing with Ezulweni. The ANC leadership did not sanction this interaction,” Mbalula said, adding that its investigation revealed criminality between Ezulweni and party staffers. 

But the supreme court of appeal tore into this argument during its ruling last week, where Judge Trevor Gorven called into question the validity of the ANC’s evidence. 

“The denials of the ANC fall into the category of bald, uncreditworthy denials designed to create fictitious disputes of fact,” Gorven said, dismissing the ANC’s appeal with costs.

“The version of the ANC accordingly does not raise bona fide factual disputes. It does not warrant the approach that the matter should have been decided on its version. On the contrary, the court of first instance and the full court were amply justified in basing their findings on the version of Ezulweni where the two versions conflicted.” 

Gorven said he had difficulty believing that the evidence provided by the ANC was “prima facie truthful”. 

The judge said the evidence proffered was all hearsay and the pleadings were made up of the notice of motion and affidavits.