/ 16 January 2024

Don’t worry about non-payment, Ramokgopa tells ANC suppliers

Gwen Ramokgopa
ANC treasurer general Gwen Ramokgopa. (Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images)

ANC treasurer general Gwen Ramokgopa has reassured suppliers of the party’s campaign materials for the coming elections not to worry about non-payments because it is working to stabilise its finances.

Ramokgopa told the Mail & Guardian that the party had not had any problems with suppliers for programmes in the past 12 months, but acknowledged that it was grappling with those that had emanated in the past.

“I’m not sure why South Africans or maybe the media [are] still pained at that problem of the past. We are still dealing with those suppliers, but certainly not from the past 12 months,” she said.

The governing party announced at a gala dinner last Friday that it had established a crowdfunding initiative for the public and ANC members to make monetary donations towards stabilising its wobbly finances. A seat at the dinner — attended by more than 200 people — cost R50 000.  

A well-placed source in the ANC dismissed claims that the president’s table raked in R15 million, and that the deputy president’s table made R5 million. 

“The president was seated at a long table. Some people made donations and others did not. The party will only know how much was made at the gala dinner in the next week,” the source said.

“There are still suppliers who need to be paid, then we will know how much was made after everything has been paid.”

Speaking about the crowdfunding initiative at the event, President Cyril Ramaphosa said it would allow people to make their monetary contributions through a short SMS code for pledges ranging from R10 to R30 and electronic fund transfers for donations of between R100 and R99 000.

Ramaphosa said the initiative, the brainchild of Ramokgopa, would ensure that the ANC had the resources to advance its work.

According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s party funding report, during the first quarter of the 2023-24 financial year, the ANC’s biggest funders were the Batho Batho Trust, which donated R15 million, and the Chancellor House Trust, which donated R5 million. 

Last year a sheriff who had been instructed to begin seizing ANCs assets for the non-payment of money owed to a service provider was prevented from doing so after lawyers for the party made an application to the constitutional court. 

A lower court had ordered the ANC to pay R102 million with interest to Ezulwini Investments after it failed to pay for the printing and installation of 30 000 banners for the party’s 2019 election campaign.

Ezulwini had threatened to declare the ruling party insolvent, which would have blocked it from participating in this year’s elections.The two entities later announced that they had reached an out-of-court settlement and would not discuss the matter further. As of Tuesday, it was not clear whether the constitutional court case would still proceed. 

Ramaphosa told party leaders at a meeting of the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) in December that he would handle the debt scandal himself, according to members of the committee.

“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,” said an NWC member.

Asked what settlement agreement had been made between the ANC and Ezulwini, Ramokgopa said: “We have dealt with the Ezulwini matter in the same manner that we deal with all conflicts that we have. In this case, it ended up as a court case and the parties agreed on an out-of-court settlement. We are working together to strengthen the ANC and to ensure that the problems of the past do not recur.” 

Asked about squabbles in the party and how its top seven leaders, including Ramaphosa and Ramokgopa, would deal with former president Jacob Zuma and his newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party, she said their focus was on the 2024 elections.

“Other people may become discouraged on the way but we are focused. We [have] always tried to focus on what is in the best interest of our people at a point in time and what we will do,” Ramokgopa said.