Sisulu in legal battle over war room
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.