Publicist doubles claim against ANC over ‘war room’ campaign

Sihle Bolani is comforted by her mother Phumla following court proceedings in January. Picture: Tshidi Madia, News24
Sihle Bolani is comforted by her mother Phumla following court proceedings in January. Picture: Tshidi Madia, News24

ANC “war room” public relations strategist Sihle Bolani has doubled her claim against the party to R4 million as an alternative to the last settlement agreed between the two parties over work done during a secret campaign to bolster the ANC performance in the municipal elections last August.

In a summons delivered to the ANC last Monday, the governing party – which denies knowledge of the dirty scheme to sabotage the opposition – has been cited as first defendant, followed by President Jacob Zuma, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, as well as the two alleged war room captains, Joseph Nkadimeng and Shaka Sisulu.

Bolani wants the December agreement she signed with former ANC general manager Ignatius Jacobs for a R1 million settlement to be declared an order of the court plus additional payment of R16 000 for fuel, calls, data, office supplies and catering.

In the alternative, “the plaintiff claim the amount of R4 million, being the financial equivalent of the value of the actual services rendered by [Sihle Bolani Communications firm] to and for the benefit of the [ANC],” reads the summons.

During an urgent high court application in January Bolani had requested an order that the agreement with Jacobs be declared null and void and replaced with R2.2 million in outstanding fees. The agreement, signed on December 9 last year, stated that “as discussed we hereby formalise the understanding agreement reached on December 9 between [Jacobs] and yourself to settle outstanding payment dispute amicably”.

Jacobs admitted in an affidavit that Bolani had volunteered to work for the ANC in the lead-up to the local government elections but the ANC said it had had no dealings with her or her public relations firm.

The South Gauteng High Court dismissed the matter on the basis that it was not urgent and that it could be dealt with in the normal schedule.

Jacobs had been cited as one of the defendants in the January court action but last week he resigned from his position in the ANC, taking a settlement equivalent to a six months’ salary payout. Both the ANC and Jacobs said then that the settlement did not mean that either of the parties accepted liability for the war room campaign.

In the court papers Bolani detailed how the campaign was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters campaigns” and set a pro-ANC agenda using a range of media, without revealing the ANC’s hand.

Operations, she said, included biased news sites and chat show, using prominent people with a high number of followers on social media, and planting fake election posters that carried misleading messages about the opposition parties.


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