Campaign controversy: 'ANC didn't yet pay back elections donation', says Survé

Sekunjalo group head Iqbal Survé is waiting for the Western Cape ANC to return R1m after an about-face in which the acting provincial leader ordered the 11th-hour election donation returned due to the probe into the Public Investment Corporation's investment in Sekunjalo.

"There has been no formal communication to Sekunjalo from the ANC Western Cape regarding the return of the donation," said Survé in a statement, adding that he had always donated to the party.

"We understand that it cannot be returned because it has been disbursed already," Survé told News24. "They have not returned the money."

On Sunday Survé announced that he was donating money towards food and transport for the party's 15 000 election volunteers in the Western Cape.

It is understood to have been R1m although Survé said his finance people handled it and he did not know the amount.

He told an intimate gathering on Sunday that it was to "deepen democracy". Survé said ANC Western Cape party representatives had approached him for financial assistance.

READ: Iqbal Survé gives Western Cape ANC 11th-hour financial boost, but wants 'no favours'

Survé insisted he wanted nothing in return for his donation, and that he was only doing it for his love of democracy.

Sekunjalo has secured sizeable loans from the PIC for Survé's business interests which include fishing and media holdings.

The ANC in the Western Cape has been putting in a strong bid to reclaim the province from the DA amid a catastrophic period in which its leader Marius Fransman was suspended and its results plummeted in the 2016 local government elections.

The donation was intended to provide food for volunteers and to assist with transport costs in getting voters to voting stations in a last push towards higher polls.

In his speech at the event, Survé said representatives from the ANC had asked him for financial assistance and he was happy to help. 

In attendance on Sunday were ANC Youth League Western Cape leader Muhammad Khalid Sayed, provincial elections coordinator Ebrahim Rasool (who went to school with Survé), provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs, ANC provincial treasurer Maurencia Gillion and representatives from its regions. 


However, by Tuesday, acting chairperson in the province Khaya Magaxa issued a statement to say that the money would be paid back to Survé.

"Due to the fact that this happened a mere three days before the election, we had no time to do such an assessment or to consider how such a donation would be perceived given the revelations made at the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety regarding the Public Investment Corporation."

However, Survé told News24 that ANC officials had been calling him since the statement was released to apologise and to say they were "appalled" by it.

He said he did not offer the money, the party asked for it, and so far the statement was "not backed up by the return of funds". 

He blamed the deputy finance minister and PIC chairperson Mondli Gungubele for the about-turn on the money, saying Gungubele had made it clear several times that he wanted to "crush" Sekunjalo. 

"It is clear Gungubele has done this as both a personal and political vendetta... Mr Gungubele's conduct is utterly disgraceful."

It's not the first time Survé has made these claims about Gungubele. When he appeared before the PIC inquiry, Survé uttered the same words and, the deputy finance minister had said that he would not be responding to the claims. 

Survé said he had always supported the ANC, and although he would not say which parties, he also financially supported other parties. 

Magaxa told News24 after issuing the statement that there is no quarrel with Survé, who is "an old ANC comrade". 

He said the suggestion that Gungubele was behind the return of the money was also a "distortion" of Magaxa's interaction with Gungubele over the matter.

Magaxa said he did not attend Sunday's evening's event at a restaurant in Cape Town's upmarket Silo district, saying he thought it was going to be a "pure entertainment" event.

He said that as acting party leader in the province he is careful about whose largesse he accepts. He also turned down an invitation by Survé to attend their party at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. 

'Haunting me' 

Magaxa said he only found out about the donation on Monday.

On Tuesday morning he had an urgent discussion with provincial head of elections Ebrahim Rasool, and with Gungubele in his capacity as PIC chairperson.

The circumstances of the loans to Survé are being probed as part of the PIC's Commission of Inquiry where Survé has recently testified.

"That is what was haunting me. Whether the company implicated in the PIC was cleared," said Magaxa.

"He [Gungubele] said no." 

On hearing that, Magaxa wanted the money returned to Survé immediately. 

He said the ANC appreciated Survé's gesture, but there were "serious allegations" relating to his private company Sekunjalo, and the PIC. 

"It is sensitive money to me," said Magaxa.

'Deal with it' 

ANC tripartite alliance partner Cosatu welcomed the decision, saying accepting a donation from Survé before the commission has had a chance to address "very serious allegations", would undermine the ANC’s "commitment to a new dawn", weaken the important work of the commission, and send a worrying message to government workers about the safety of their pensions invested by the PIC. 

"It would potentially be in violation of the progressive Political Party Funding Act, recently signed into law by the President, which prohibits using public funds to finance political parties," said Cosatu.

The inquiry, which started its work in January, is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the asset manager, including in its internal governance and how it made controversial investment decisions. Two of the investments that have come under scrutiny are linked to Survé.

He said this decision was also in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's message at the party's rally in Johannesburg on Sunday that the party was on a path to renewal and recognised how "patronage and corruption" had eroded people's trust.

By mid-afternoon, only two regions were able to say they could return the money and the others are still being contacted, according to Magaxa. 

"We will cover that money already spent and they [internal structures] can deal with that or punish us afterwards, but we have to pay that money back."

He said he did not know anything about ANC members asking Survé for financial assistance for the election period. 

"If there is anything like that we will have to deal with it." 

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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