Sisulu in le­gal bat­tle over war room

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­

As ques­tions are asked about mil­lions meant to be paid to peo­ple who led the ANC’s covert “war room” cam­paign to dis­credit op­po­si­tion par­ties in the run-up to last year’s polls, an em­bat­tled Shaka Sisulu has de­cided to take le­gal ac­tion against pub­lic re­la­tions ex­pert Sihle Bolani to the tune of R3 mil­lion.

In court pa­pers filed on Thurs­day, the ANC stal­wart, Wal­ter Sisulu’s grand­son, claims that al­le­ga­tions made by Bolani, which sug­gest that he is un­pro­fes­sional, have ru­ined his rep­u­ta­tion.

In the pa­pers, Sisulu cites a re­port com­piled by Bolani where she out­lines the se­quences of events from the es­tab­lish­ment of the covert op­er­a­tion dubbed the war room.

In the re­port Bolani refers to a num­ber of in­stances where Sisulu did not hold up his end of the bar­gain. She claims he did not de­liver on work, on one oc­ca­sion showed up drunk and did not hon­our pay­ments, among a num­ber of other al­le­ga­tions.

About two weeks ago Bolani went to the courts in a bid to try and force the gov­ern­ing party to pay her R2.2 mil­lion for work she had done for them in the run-up to the 2016 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

Her af­fi­davit re­vealed de­tails of the “war room”, which was put to­gether by Sisulu and one Joseph Nkadi­meng to run the dig­i­tal as­pect of the ANC’s elec­toral cam­paign.

In the court pa­pers, Sisulu says that he and Nkadi­meng, “em­barked on a com­mu­ni­ca­tions project aimed at pro­mot­ing the ANC to po­ten­tial vot­ers for the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions”, in April of last year. Shortly af­ter­wards he was in­tro­duced to Bolani and a team of me­dia ex­perts was assem­bled.

Part of the op­er­a­tion was to tar­nish op­po­si­tion par­ties by print­ing fake posters as well as set­ting up a fake news web­site. In a re­port com­piled by Bolani in Novem­ber 2016 she out­lines the var­i­ous strate­gies which she and Sisulu had al­legedly agreed upon, in­clud­ing re­cruit­ing in­flu­en­tial peo­ple on so­cial me­dia who would use their pro­files to give cov­er­age to the ANC.

While the ANC has dis­tanced it­self from the project, it emerged that a gen­eral man­ager, Ig­natius Ja­cobs, was aware of and may even have en­dorsed the war room.

Last week, recordings of meet­ings be­tween Bolani and Ja­cobs and oth­ers sur­faced. In the meet­ings Nkadi­meng – un­der­stood to be one of the ar­chi­tects of the war room – tells Ja­cobs that they had in­tended to raise R50 mil­lion for the project, but did not meet their tar­get.

Ja­cobs has in­structed his lawyers to pur­sue a case of defama­tion of char­ac­ter against Bolani, saying that she dam­aged his rep­u­ta­tion by im­pli­cat­ing him in the war room saga. He is de­mand­ing R500 000. The ANC has re­fused to comment on the war room. Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe told jour­nal­ists that the mat­ter had noth­ing to do with the ANC.

Shortly af­ter­wards, he added that Ja­cobs would be fac­ing some sort of dis­ci­plinary process for act­ing with­out a man­date from the party.

“I can con­firm that I have com­menced le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Sihle Bolani. I be­lieve she has dragged my name in the mud in or­der to ex­tort money from the African Na­tional Congress. I will not comment fur­ther on this mat­ter as I in­tend to al­low the le­gal process to take its cause,” Sisulu told City Press this week.

Bolani said that she had no comment on the mat­ter.


Shaka Sisulu

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