A leaked report has revealed that the ruling ANC planned to plunge hundreds of million on a covert campaign targeted at opposition parties during the 2016 LG election.
According to the court papers filed against the party at the High Court in Johannesburg, the ANC planned to spend R50 million on a covert campaign targeting opposition parties in the 2016 local government elections.
This was revealed in court papers filed at the High Court in Johannesburg as part of a court bid by one of the people involved in the alleged campaign.
Also, Investigative reporters at amaBhungane have confirmed the above to be true, saying that the evidence shows the party’s plans just didn’t work out.
It further explained that a covert team, initially known as “the War Room” was also created in order to “discredit main opposition parties, the DA and EFF campaigns and to set a pro-ANC agenda using a range of media, without revealing the ANC’s hand.
The War Room was to have no links to Luthuli House, but would establish a publication (The New South African) and talk shows featuring stories of ANC successes, while using so-called ‘influencers’ online to shift public discourse.
Apart from the millions the ruling party planned to spend on the local government election campaign, the report also revealed the party plans to use everything from fake news to paid Twitter accounts, to manipulate voter sentiment.
The party also planned to make use of fake posters to mimic opposition parties’ campaigns just to “disempower” them.
This came to light during a case that was brought against the ANC by public relations expert Sihle Bolani, who claims she is owed R2.2 million for work done as part of the campaign.
Bolani herself, alongside some other correspondents stood as evidence in the court application which also revealed that the War Room was supposed to raise R50 million from various sources to do its job. But, the promised money failed to come forth like other materials such as t-shirts and posters.
The investigative group said this response was contradicted as it had seen proof of correspondence between the ANC and the PR team at Ogilvy & Mather (the company that helped the ANC with its public relations during the 2016 LG Election) making specific mention of the War Room, and the party’s involvement.
The 2016 LG Election conducted in August last year, saw the ruling ANC suffering a massive loss as it experienced the worst election since taking power.
South Africans turned their back on the party as they vented anger about high unemployment and corruption in municipal elections that herald a sea of change in politics and society.
Wins in Tshwane and in Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the manufacturing hub Port Elizabeth, are a watershed for the opposition party, the DA, which also held Cape Town, a municipality that the ANC controlled since 2006.
Though the ruling party won in the state’s economic and financial hub, Johannesburg, taking 45 percent of the vote to the DA’s 38 percent, the party had to form a coalition to govern.
The DA, however, got ahead of the ruling party as it was able to successfully form a coalition with the Economic Freedom party (EFF) to get hold of the municipality.