The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) was declared bankrupt on Thursday because of a legal bill it has failed to pay.
Earlier this year, two judges were hesitant when asked to liquidate the organisation, but Judge Sharise Weiner did so in an order delivered in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday.
On Thursday night, after the insolvency order against the league had been granted, it indicated that it had paid the bill, but it was too late.
The liquidation comes after the league failed to pay for legal costs in the defamation case Western Cape Premier Helen Zille instituted against the league, Julius Malema, Floyd Shivambu and Andile Lili in 2010.
The case came after Zille was called a “racist girl” by the defendants.
The matter was later settled and the ANCYL, along with Shivambu and Malema, who were then members of the league, accepted responsibility for Zille’s legal costs.
Apart from the legal costs, the four defendants also had a costs order granted against them during the course of the case.
Advocate Hugo de Waal, who appeared for Zille in the matter, applied to the Johannesburg High Court for a liquidation order against the league in November.
De Waal said in court papers that Zille had transferred her right to recover the costs, totalling R93 218.09 plus interest, to him.
The high court issued a warrant of execution in September 2016.
But De Waal said that the Sheriff of the Court returned with empty hands because he could not find any assets to attach. All the property found at Luthuli House belonged to the national ANC, which is a separate legal entity.
Another warrant of execution was served on the league in June last year. The sheriff then asked that movable property be pointed out to him, but his search for assets was ultimately unsuccessful.
Hein von Lieres, De Waal’s attorney, said the ANCYL sent him proof of payment on the night after the liquidation order was granted.
“That’s all good and well, but of course that makes no difference to the fact that they’ve already been liquidated,” he said.
Von Lieres did not want to disclose the full amount paid, but said that it did not include all the legal costs.
De Waal argued in court papers that the ANCYL, as a body corporate, was governed by the Companies Act.
The leagues’s own constitution says that it is a legal person with perpetual succession, which is independent of its individual members and is able to acquire, own and alienate property.
De Waal said that, in the recent past, the youth league had been through a number of similar applications that were settled out of court.
The media frequently reports that the ANCYL and its officials spend money on conferences and other political gatherings, and on extravagant socialising.
According to the court papers, money does not appear to be a problem.
Accordingly, the unavoidable inference is that the youth league does have access to money.
Despite this, it was argued, the ANCYL had a habit of not paying its debts.
Mlondi Mkhize, ANCYL spokesperson, said they were bound to abide by the court order and to settle their debts.
Asked what the liquidations mean for the future of the youth league, Mkhize said the immediate responsibility was to repay the debt.
“We don’t want things to reach that stage,” said Mkhize about the possible appointment of a liquidator, which means the league would no longer have control of its assets.
Mkhize also said they had not yet spoken to the ANC about a bailout because they wanted to handle the situation themselves.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe yesterday morning indicated that he would issue a press release, but had not done so by the time of going to print.