The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) goes to this week’s congress after allegedly leaving a trail of debt that has left a printing firm, businesses in the accommodation sector and a pub owed at least R800 000 after its last conference three years ago.
The guesthouses were allegedly unpaid when in 2008 the youth league hosted the second leg of its congress at Nasrec, Soweto.
The first leg of the congress, which saw youth league president Julius Malema being voted into his current position, had been disrupted in Mangaung, Free State.
Dudu Mngomezulu-Hlatshwayo, spokesperson for the unpaid guesthouses, said the league owed B&Bs R250 000 for accommodation that was offered by about 60 guesthouses in Orlando West and East, Zuurbekom, Dube, Diepkloof extension, Mondeor and Naturena.
She said each guesthouse accommodated a different number of people and charged R400 per person per night.
Mngomezulu-Hlatshwayo’s B&B was owed R10 000 and that the guesthouses even went the extra mile in supplying the delegates with free food.
She said a consultant had sought legal opinion on the matter, but was advised to drop it.
This Thursday, about 700 delegates are expected to attend the youth league’s 24th conference at Gallagher Estate, and guesthouses and hotels in Midrand are expected to swell with bookings.
The league’s treasurer, Pule Mabe, said the ANCYL had settled the debt and the allegations were being resurrected because the league was holding elections this week.
“What is your interest in the story? That story is long dead,” said Mabe. “We sorted out those people in 2008,” he said.
Mabe, however, declined to provide proof of payment.
“The youth league doesn’t have to prove anything to the media. I am just answering your questions as a courtesy,” he said.
He said if the owners of the guesthouses were not paid, they should have taken action against the youth league.
“Why have they not taken legal action against the youth league or come to Luthuli House to lay a complaint?” asked Mabe.
The youth league has also not paid R490 300 to Benoni-based Taj Printers for printing flyers, banners, posters, booklets and programmes between 2008 and 2009.
Taj Printers’ attorney Daryll Ackerman told City Press Business this week that the company took the youth league to court last April and won. According to Ackerman, the sheriff has not effected the judgment to attach the possessions of the youth league ostensibly because he is scared of the political fallout.
During the 2008 congress, the youth league also failed to settle a bill of R50 000 at a township pub.
“My business nearly collapsed after the youth league failed to pay me the R50 000,” said Meli Morewane, owner of Meli’s, a pub in Pimville near Maponya Mall.
Morewane said he went to the ANC’s Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg, to try to recover his money.
“I went to Luthuli House many times, but I was sent from pillar to post until I decided to give up. I have made peace with the matter and I don’t want to pursue it any longer,” he said.
Morewane said he had barred the youth league from making bookings at his pub.
“The youth league is no longer welcome here as a group. If people want to come here, they can come as individuals who will pay cash for their drinks,” he said.
He said during last month’s municipal elections, he declined an offer from ANC members who wanted to book his pub.
Flossis B&B boss Florence Mondi said she was owed R3 500.
“The youth league is immoral and I can’t believe that the ANC has not acted on this issue because the ruling party has branded itself as a champion for small businesses,” said Mondi.
Jane Lebelo of Mookho’s B&B said she was still owed R1 500. She was incensed to hear that the youth league had decided to hold its conference at Gallagher Estate before they could settle the debt.
“Instead of hosting the conference in Soweto and paying the money what they owe us, the league is giving business to guesthouses in suburbs,” she said.
Nombeko Rwaxa, who owns the Zizwe Guesthouse, said the youth league incident had taught her a lesson.
“I have learned to request payment upfront, especially when dealing with groups.”
South African Liquor Tourism and Hospitality Association secretary-general Monga Phaladi advised B&Bs and liquor outlets to ask for cash or credit card payments upfront.
“Patrons must also learn to respect entrepreneurs and their businesses. These entrepreneurs are making a living from their enterprises,” said Phaladi.