The African National Congress (ANC) has distanced itself from Shaka Sisulu and Ignatius Jacobs in an attempt to disown the embarrassing paid Twitter campaign which was apparently aimed at tarnishing the image of opposition parties in the run-up to the 2016 municipal elections.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Sisulu does not work for the party and for that reason he would not comment on the issue. However, he indicated that they had held discussions with the party's general manager Jacobs who was apparently involved.
"I don't think we should be responding to that issue, it's not an ANC issue. Individuals meet with the general manager of the ANC and they make deals on the side, we don't think we should take the ANC into that space," said Mantashe.
He said the party had noted the allegations levelled against Jacobs and the matter was receiving attention within the organisation. Jacobs reports to Mantashe but he said he did not know about the agreements that were reached with Bolani and only became aware of the matter on Tuesday. Jacobs is a former Gauteng MEC.
"Here a general manager is implicated and we are dealing it. I was not aware of the letter yesterday. We had a meeting with the general manager this morning and we are dealing with the matter," said Mantashe.
He was addressing the media in Irene, Pretoria, where the party is holding a national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla (meeting). The party has been fielding questions after businesswoman Sihle Bolani approached the Johannesburg High Court to compel the organisation to pay her R2 million for work she did before the elections. She claimed she was part of a R50 million covert operation called the War Room to tweet and retweet messages, driving a smear campaign against the opposition parties.
In her affidavit, Bolani said Sisulu and a businessman, Joseph Nkadimeng, were to provide the funds for the operation. The operation is said to have involved posters of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema holding a gun. She said she was approached by Nkadimeng for the project. She said after months of trying to get the party to settle the bill, party general manager Ignatius Jacobs agreed to R1 million, which ultimately wasn't paid.
Jacobs, however, said she was not owed money as she had volunteered.