The Mail & Guardian has reported that the ANC plans to launch a mobile network on the back of Cell C called “ANC 1912 Mobile”.
The report stated that the MVNO is part of a plan to help the ANC win the national general elections in 2019 by attracting new voters.
The mobile network would also be used to “disseminate ANC news, content and information” – and “earn the party more than R10 million a month”, stated the Mail & Guardian.
It is stated that the companies which would own the MVNO are Digital Broadway and Trading and Impepho Emhlophe Risk Managers, and was part of a R13-million proposal to ANC election head Fikile Mbalula.
Meetings between the ANC and Cell C reportedly took place by May, and Cell C was selected as the service provider in June.
“But allegations of greed, litigation threats, and claims of a conflict of interest threaten to derail the agreement,” stated the report.
The Mail & Guardian said documents it has seen show that the shareholding of the project was broken down into several chunks, with Majota “Phat Joe” Kambule getting 51%. Kambule owns Digital Broadway and Trading.
Impepho Emhlophe Risk Managers would receive 22%, and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association will get 5%.
“Other unknown entities 15%, and 7% for the ‘Vatican’,” stated the report. This is reportedly ANC headquarters Luthuli House.
However, it is alleged that a manager in the ANC’s election committee wants to bring his own company into the deal so it can benefit from 1912 Mobile.
This manager then allegedly went to Cell C to negotiate on behalf of the ANC without Impepho Emhlophe Risk Managers.
Impepho Emhlophe Risk Managers, through its owner Joseph Nkadimeng, said they were now considering legal action if 1912 Mobile is launched by the ANC.
“It is unfortunate that both greed and arrogance superseded the humble intentions of Digital and Impepho activism to promote the ANC’s election manifesto and campaign,” said Nkadimeng.
Mbalula, however, denied that the project was in jeopardy and that there is “nothing that is being stalled”.
“Whether it moves ahead will depend on… time, because it’s a huge project and we are not comfortable to talk about it,” said Mbalula.
Cell C spokesperson Karin Fourie said the discussions were confidential and subject to NDAs.
The report added that 1912 Mobile aimed to connect one million customers and “generate R10 million in cash per month for the ANC”.
ANC’s poor digital presence
The report on the ANC’s planned MVNO follows closely after the party had a big payment dispute with the host of its website.
The ANC recently launched a new website after reportedly failing to pay for its old one. The new website – anc1912.org.za – was put online after its previous website – anc.org.za – was taken down due to non-payment.
Media reports stated that the ANC owed service provider Unwembi Communications R32.5 million for the running of the site, but the ANC denied it was in a dispute with the company.
Before this, in January 2017, it was also reported that the ANC planned to use news websites, Facebook and Twitter pages, and fake election posters to paint the DA and EFF in a bad light.
A “news website” called The New South African was launched by the party’s election team, claiming to offer “new voices” and was supplied with 150 articles pushing a pro-ANC agenda.
Kambule was named as responsible for producing content for the website at the time.