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Sisulu troubled by War Room involvement claims

Shaka Sisulu, ANC activist, denies reports he spearheaded a covert operation called the War Room. PHOTO: Instagram

Shaka Sisulu, ANC activist, denies reports he spearheaded a covert operation called the War Room. PHOTO: Instagram

Shaka Sisulu, ANC activist, has denied involvement in heading up an alleged covert operation called the War Room, in which the ANC was to spend R50 million to disempower other political party campaigns and gain support for the ANC in 2016 local government elections. The case implicating Sisulu was filed in the High Court in Johannesburg against the ANC by Sihle Bolani, public relations professional, claiming she is owed R2.2 million for PR work for the War Room.

“I am deeply troubled by reports I spearheaded a ‘covert black ops’ unit allegedly commissioned by the ANC to discredit the opposition in the 2016 elections. These reports are inherently false, exaggerated and intended to discredit in part my reputation and the name of the African National Congress,” says Sisulu.

The ANC activist says as a volunteer for the ANC, his role is to promote the values and virtues of the movement to potential voters, not to discredit the opposition. He says he has never witnessed or heard any volunteers receiving an amount of R50 million or anything remotely close to that.

“While I did work briefly with the complainant as part of the media team it was certainly not a covert ‘black-ops’ unit. I can only assume the case itself accompanied by news reports that came out before the matter even went before the court, was intended to extort money from the ANC,” says Sisulu.

Court documents state the link between the War Room and ANC was not meant to be revealed and the operation was to use various media including fake posters and paid twitter accounts to manipulate voter sentiment to win municipalities in the elections 2016. However, it states initiatives were short lived or dead on arrival due to mismanagement and lack of funding.

Bolani had papers proving she was set to be paid for the campaign. Included in the documentation was a R1 million settlement agreement signed in December with Ignatius Jacobs, ANC general manager, which she claims to be waiting payment for since 31 December but is now demanding the full R2.2 million amount.

Zizi Kodwa, national spokesperson for the ANC, says the ANC rejects with contempt reports in the media that the organisation sought to conduct a R50 million covert campaign targeting opposition parties during the 2016 election. He says they further reject any allegation the organisation owes any monies to any companies purporting to run such a campaign.

“The ANC does not need nor has it ever engaged in any ‘black ops’ to woo voters. Sihle Bolani, Joseph Nkadimeng and Shaka Sisulu et al were not contracted or mandated by the ANC or any of its’ structures tasked with the communications work of the organisation in the 2016 election,” he says.

Kate Bapela, media spokesperson for the IEC, says the Electoral Commission has noted media reports of the alleged ‘covert’ communication campaign during 2016 municipal elections. She says the political party implicated has strongly denied there is any substance to these allegations and these claims are contained in sworn affidavits part of the active civil court case.

“The Electoral Commission believes this legal process should be allowed to be concluded and that it would be premature to comment on such allegations. Should circumstances require the Electoral Commission to take further action it will not hesitate to discharge its’ duties and obligations,” she says.