“Restructure the party in order to cut costs,” this is the message outgoing treasurer-general Dr Zweli Mkhize has for newly elected ANC leaders. Mkhize was opining on the ANC’s much-reported debt, estimated at about R200 million.
The former KZN premier and the most popular leader outside of the Top Six in terms of results of the NEC was reacting to the announcement of the new ANC national officials earlier this week during the ANC conference in Nasrec.
The party’s previous two conferences, at Polokwane and Mangaung, are understood to have been Mkhize’s Achilles’ heels. This year’s conference may add more headaches to Mashatile, as service providers, if not paid, will be knocking at his door.
Sources in and outside of the finance department at Luthuli House, which will not be politically overseen by Paul Mashatile, currently Gauteng ANC chairperson and human settlement MEC, have welcomed Mashatile’s elevation to the hot seat.
“Many delegates were aware of Mashatile’s dodgy past, going as far back as the R300-million fruitless expenditure on the abandoned Gauteng Grand Prix, his exorbitant bills at fancy Sandton restaurants and untested allegations of ‘Alex Mafia’, but you know what if he can bring funding to the party, he will endear himself to comrades,” a source said.
Another former party official said if it were registered either as a nonprofit organisation or a company, the ANC would be “technically insolvent”.
The official said the challenge is that the party burns through money and is unable to generate any income.
The ANC, after winding up its recently known investment arms, currently has no rigorous income-generating strategy and relies heavily on funders and “donations-in-kind”, a situation which may expose the party after party-funding legislation is promulgated, and it is required to publicly declare who its benefactors are.
In the aftermath of the previous conference held in Mangaung exactly five years go, Mkhize personally assured creditors they would all be paid. Then party spokesperson Keith Khoza issued a statement a few days after the conference assuring service providers and those who extended a line of credit that it will settle debts with them.
During the run-up to 2014 national elections, party leader Nomvula Mokonyane let slip that it could cost as much as R100 million to run the elections which saw the ANC’s majority in parliament reduced by newcomers EFF as well as black voters embracing the liberal-leaning Democratic Alliance.
After the local government elections in August 2016, the party was engulfed in a financial scandal when it emerged that a “war room” had been created to enlist the services of social media “influencers”. Sihle Bolani, a PR entrepreneur, sued the party in court for R2.2 million for breach of contractual agreement and lost in court.
Gosebo Mathope is a Senior Political Reporter for The Citizen – firstname.lastname@example.org or @Gosebo_Mathope