ANC, communications company head to court over R32m website wrangle

18 December 2018 - 16:26 By GENEVIEVE QUINTAL
A screen grab of the notification that was on the ANC's website. The website has been down since September, with attorneys for Unwembi Communications saying they had instructed the service provider to withhold services until the ANC had paid its debt.
A screen grab of the notification that was on the ANC's website. The website has been down since September, with attorneys for Unwembi Communications saying they had instructed the service provider to withhold services until the ANC had paid its debt.

The battle between the ANC and Unwembi Communications, which is responsible for developing and hosting the party’s website, will now go to court after the two failed to reach a settlement.

Unwembi Communications is suing the ANC for R32m for the party’s website and for also developing and hosting the membership system, which it says the party has not paid for.

The ANC’s official website has been down since September, with attorneys for Unwembi Communications saying at the time that they had instructed the service provider to withhold services until the debt had been paid.

A notice saying "This website is suspended due to nonpayment to the service provider" was put on the website, but has since been removed.

In October, the party launched its new "revamped" website but on a completely different domain name.

At the time, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party had decided to cut ties with the service provider and that the mutually agreed settlement fee was R3.7m.

That same month, Hogan Lovells, lawyers for the ANC, wrote to Unwembi’s lawyers saying the party would make arrangements to pay the service provider, but only the amounts which it was liable for under the agreement with the company.

The ANC also asked for copies of all invoices and wanted its domain name and website restored.

However, on Tuesday, Unwembi Communications lawyer Gert van der Merwe said no payment was ever made and now a summons has been issued by the high court in Pretoria. 

The ANC has filed a notice of intention to defend the action.

"They have applied to have the domain name registered in their name. That is pending and our defence to that is of course they can get it - we don’t want it, but they just need to pay us," Van der Merwe said.

ANC acting spokesperson Dakota Legoete confirmed that the party would be opposing the matter.

He said that with the party’s domain name, the matter had been taken to mediation and an outcome was expected on December 28.

Unwebi was responsible for developing the ANC membership system and for the development, hosting and support of the party’s websites, nationally and provincially.

The service provider is claiming that the ANC owes it R26.5m for the membership system agreement and R6m for the agreement on their websites.

- BusinessLIVE


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