The standoff between the African National Congress (ANC) and an events company has heightened after Ezulweni Investments gave the ANC until Wednesday to pay the R102-million or face liquidation.
But the ANC, whose headquarters at Luthuli House was paid a visit by the Sheriff of the Gauteng High Court on Monday, is dead set on not repaying the money, pending the outcome of an appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Ezulweni's attorney, Shafique Sarlie, told News 24 that, should the ruling party fail to pay the money into its attorneys trust account, they would forge ahead with the liquidation proceedings.
If the ANC is liquidated, it will not be able to contest elections.
My client has given the ANC a final opportunity to avoid liquidation and simply pay the money into their attorneys' account or provide us with sufficient security for the debt, so we know they are not procrastinating and delaying payment. They have until Wednesday to do that. If they don't, we are proceeding with this application.
"They can pay this amount, and it just makes sense to do that, given that they face the risk of being excluded from the elections by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) if there is pending liquidation.
"We are going to make a [solid] case for liquidation, they would be well-advised to pay this amount or give surety," he said.
However, the ANC's legal manager, Billy Malatji, said the ANC would do no such thing because the contract with Ezulweni was fraudulent.
"We are not going to pay anything; you don't appeal and comply with the court order; when there is a judgment against you, and you appeal against that judgment, it's automatically suspended until the outcome. This is the law," Malatji said.
ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri told journalists at a media briefing that attempting to attach the party's assets at Luthuli House earlier in the day was illegal.
"The deputy Sheriff should not have been here; we are not certain of the reasons behind creating such a spectacle when the ANC has already communicated previously that it had approached the Constitutional Court. It is very curious why the deputy Sheriff was here," she said.
She said the party received an oral apology, but was expecting a written one.
In the letter, dated 1 December, Sarlie wrote: "Our client's application will largely be premised on what we believe is an irresistible inference that your client's Stalingrad tactics in the entire list, exhausting all its appeal remedies, with appeals doomed to failure, and an opportunistic and baseless application to lead new evidence, and now an equally doomed application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, are designed solely and purely to avoid and delay payment, on account of your client not being able to satisfy the judgment debt. And, in truth, being hopelessly insolvent.
"It must expressly be recorded that payment by your client of the judgment debt into your trust account, alternatively, the provision of acceptable and satisfactory security as demanded herein before, will result in our client not proceeding with its application for liquidation."
The Supreme Court of Appeal last month dismissed, with costs, the ANC's appeal against a judgment that the party was responsible for the outstanding amount owed to Ezulweni.
Peter Fernando, of Ezulweni, reiterated Sarlie's comments, saying they would forge ahead, start the liquidation process, and ultimately block the ANC from contesting the elections.
The events company wants to recover more than R100-million for work done during the 2019 elections campaign.
Fernando said the ANC turning to the Constitutional Court was a delay tactic and would not work.
We will start with the liquidation process. We want to sell their [the ANC's] assets and close the party down. According to IEC rules, if you are in the process of liquidation, you can't stand for an election.
"This is to delay the process; it will not work. We are starting the liquidation process on [Monday]. Our attorneys are busy with that."
The Sheriff of the High Court descended on Luthuli House on Monday, hoping to attach the party's assets.
According to the Sheriff's notice of attachment in execution, the ANC would lose a significant amount of furniture and moveable assets.
On the fourth floor, items likely to be attached are reception desks, a plasma TV, couches, filing cabinets, 18 computers, a fridge, a small printer and a microwave.
The fifth floor could lose a coffee table, a black couch, a lounge suite, three computers, shelving, 12 training desks, a small fridge, a microwave and several L-shaped desks.
On the sixth floor, there is a plasma TV, a lounge suite, a boardroom table and at least 20 chairs.
This is the floor where the ANC's top officials have their offices. Other items include a microwave, desks, filing cabinets and a lounge suite.
On the eighth floor, the Sheriff could seize a plasma TV, a lounge suite, a reception counter, a water cooler, desks, chairs and a filing cabinet.
The ANC's bank accounts have also been attached.