Sher­iff to sell ANC HQ due to R25m debt

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - SO LL Y MAP HUM UL O

THE ANC head­quar­ters in the Joburg CBD, Chief Al­bert Luthuli House, could be up for grabs soon af­ter the Jo­han­nes­burg High Court or­dered the sher­iff to auc­tion the build­ing.

The or­der was is­sued af­ter the cash-strapped party failed to pay a R25-mil­lion debt owed to former spooks who were roped in to help with the 2014 pro­vin­cial elec­tion strat­egy, court doc­u­ments show.

Sources say an at­tach­ment let­ter will be de­liv­ered by the sher­iff of the court to Luthuli House to­mor­row, an ac­tion that is set to cause un­told em­bar­rass­ment to the ANC.

The court pa­pers, which The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent has seen, show that the ANC is em­broiled in a le­gal bat­tle with Resur­gent Risk Man­agers, a com­pany owned by Manala Manzini.

Manzini was a former Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency boss with Arthur Fraser, who was also a di­rec­tor of the com­pany but re­signed last year when he was ap­pointed as State Se­cu­rity Agency di­rec­tor-gen­eral.

Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, in Oc­to­ber 2013 the ANC, rep­re­sented by Ig­natius Ja­cobs, en­tered into a “ver­bal agree­ment” with Barry Fraser, Arthur’s brother, who rep­re­sented Resur­gent to pro­vide elec­tion sup­port and strate­gic ser­vices to the ANC dur­ing the 2014 na­tional elec­tions.

On Fri­day, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe said the party’s lawyers were deal­ing with the mat­ter and “we are chal­leng­ing it”.

How­ever, he ques­tioned why any com­pany would en­ter into a ver­bal agree­ment for R20m. “Ask them to show you a con­tract,” Man­tashe said. But an in­tel­li­gence agent, who did not want to be named, said Luthuli House was a na­tional key point and there­fore could not be sold.

“Th­ese peo­ple are tak­ing chances. Luthuli House is a na­tional key point and that is why there is a po­lice van sta­tioned out­side the build­ing 24 hours a day,” he said.

Sev­eral calls to Ig­natius Ja­cobs, who has been cited in the court pa­pers as the per­son who made the ver­bal agree­ment, were not an­swered this week.

How­ever, a source said Resur­gent did de­liver on its man­date in terms of the out­come of the elec­tions in which the ANC ob­tained a re­sound­ing 62% ma­jor­ity, de­spite hav­ing a ver­bal agree­ment.

In the court doc­u­ments, Resur­gent ar­gues that in terms of the agree­ment, the firm, with the as­sis­tance of third-party ser­vice providers sub­con­tracted by it, pro­vided ser­vices such as the de­vel­op­ment of a strate­gic mes­sage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion frame­work, the set­ting up of polling and fo­cus groups, me­dia mon­i­tor­ing and the de­vel­op­ment of an an­a­lyt­ics model for vot­ers.

The “ver­bal agree­ment” was that Resur­gent would charge the ANC “its usual fee” which would not ex­ceed R20m and in­cluded op­er­a­tional and travel ex­penses. The fee was payable on sub­mis­sion of an in­voice. Then in May 2014, Resur­gent in­voiced the ANC for ser­vices ren­dered for R19.95m but the ANC did not pay. The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent has seen a copy of the in­voice.

On Novem­ber 9 2016, le­gal firm Bow­man Gil­fil­lan, act­ing on be­half of Resur­gent, wrote a let­ter of de­mand to the ANC top six: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize, sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, his deputy, Jessie Duarte, and na­tional chair­per­son Baleka Mbete.

The let­ter reads: “We ad­dress you upon the in­struc­tion of our client, Resur­gent Risk Man­agers Pro­pri­etary Lim­ited.

“We are in­structed that dur­ing Au­gust 2013, the African Na­tional Congress Elec­tions Sec­re­tariat is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als for a me­dia part­ner for the 2014 na­tional elec­tions.

“The fees for the ser­vices to be pro­vided by our client to the ANC were also dis­cussed and agreed upon be­tween Fraser and Ja­cobs on or about 10 Oc­to­ber, 2013.

“In ac­cor­dance with the agree­ment and the out­line, our client duly pro­vided elec­tion sup­port and strate­gic ser­vices to the ANC dur­ing the pe­riod Septem­ber 2013 to May 2014.

“Our client in­voiced the ANC for the fees in­curred in pro­vid­ing the said ser­vices and is­sued an in­voice for an amount of R19950000.00 to the ANC on May 30, 2014.”

The law firm gave the ANC 10 days to set­tle and threat­ened to “in­sti­tute le­gal pro­ceed­ings against the ANC with­out fur­ther no­tice”.

Resur­gent ar­gues in the court pa­pers that: “De­spite the law­ful de­mand, the de­fen­dant (ANC) has failed to or ne­glected to pay” them.

The source said the ANC ig­nored the let­ter of de­mand hop­ing that this whole thing would be de­layed and that the debt would pre­scribe.

When Resur­gent did not re­ceive pay­ment in May, it ap­proached the High Court in Jo­han­nes­burg, which is­sued a court or­der for the sher­iff to auc­tion off Luthuli House.

Ques­tions which were sent to Resur­gent were re­turned with a terse: “Resur­gent does not wish to com­ment on the mat­ter. Re­gards, Man­age­ment.”

Calls to Manzini also went unan­swered.

This is not the first time that Ja­cobs has been em­broiled in is­sues around elec­tion war-room strate­gies.

Ja­cobs, Joseph Nkadi­meng and Shaka Sisulu were also cited in court doc­u­ments by pub­lic re­la­tions strate­gist, Sihle Bolani.

Bolani brought a law­suit against the ANC af­ter its fail­ure to pay her for what is termed the “black ops” cam­paign­ing lead­ing up to last years’ lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

This cam­paign was in­tended to dis­em­power op­po­si­tion par­ties such as the EFF and the DA by spread­ing fake news on Twit­ter, Face­book and on posters.

Ja­cobs, who was cited as one of the de­fen­dants, re­signed as gen­eral man­ager in the African Na­tional Congress ahead of a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

PIC­TURE: NHLANHLA PHILLIPS

UP FOR GRABS?: Luthuli House may go on auc­tion.

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