A pear-shaped production of billboard proportions, but it is the ...

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A pear-shaped production of billboard proportions, but it is the ANC

Renash Ramdas has reaped a R100m reward because a party conehead thought R3,000 a poster was pennies

Columnist
Is it possible that these are the types of posters for which the ANC forked out R3,000 a pop?
SURELY NOT Is it possible that these are the types of posters for which the ANC forked out R3,000 a pop?
Image: Sunday Times

It’s been a bittersweet week for KZN businessman Renash Ramdas. On the one hand, the Gauteng High Court has just told the ANC to pay him R100m for 30,000 election posters his company made for the party. On the other, he’s just realised he could have charged R200m or R5bn or R17-trillion and the slack-jawed innumerates at Luthuli House wouldn’t have blinked.

I don’t blame you if you don’t remember this sordid little story. We’ve sunk so deep into the ANC sewer that a mere R100m barely twitches the needle of the corruption Geiger counter these days.

But back in September last year it caused a minor stink, as the press reported that some bright spark in the ANC had agreed to pay Ramdas about R3,000 per poster.

At the time, I assumed these had been bog-standard lamppost placards, involving a printed picture glued to some cardboard, which made the R3,000 price tag absurd, even by ANC standards.

Looking back at those reports, however, I now see that IOL described the posters as being made of PVC, which suggests a higher cost.

But how much higher?

I don’t know how large the ANC’s banners were, but media reports said they were intended for use on lampposts, so let’s assume they were as large as could be practically hung from a lamppost — let’s say a metre wide by three metres high.

To be clear, I don't begrudge Ramdas and his firm their enormous payday.

Two minutes on Google took me to a local online printing service that can supply PVC banners of that size, in full colour, for R830. Order 100 of them and that price drops to R460 per banner. I’m not sure how far the economy of scale extends, but I’d guess that if you were ordering 30,000 you could haggle them down to somewhere between R300 and R400 a pop.

All of which seems to suggest that Ezulweni Investments, the company owned by Ramdas, whacked on a mark-up of about 500% and is now reaping the mind-boggling rewards.

To be clear, I don’t begrudge Ramdas and his firm their enormous payday. If I encountered a bank robber fast asleep under a tree, his face serenely resting in a half-eaten pie, wads of banknotes and heaps of Krugerrands spilling out of his pockets, and a sign stuck to his chest that read “I CAN’T DO MATHS AND ALSO I DON’T GIVE A SHIT”, I’d be loading up on that loot faster than you can say radical economic transformation.

And who knows? If things go pear-shaped for me as a columnist, I might end up applying for a job as a minister’s spin-doctor. I’ve already got the perfect CV, having written satire and fiction for the past 20 years.

For the ANC, however, things have gone pear-shaped right now. Its appeal, saying the transaction should be nullified because it wasn’t signed off by then treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, has been dismissed with costs.

Gosh. If only someone with primary school maths and a fragment of integrity and foresight had socked away two cents out of every R100 stolen by the Zuptas, they’d have their R100m and be laughing.

Ah well. Thank heavens for taxpayers, eh?