‘Bo­gus’ union boss in court bid for R7m state pay­out

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

In a David ver­sus Go­liath case, Thebe Maswabi, the founder of a “covert” union, has asked the High Court in Pre­to­ria to en­force the R7 mil­lion set­tle­ment agree­ment he reached with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In the agree­ment, signed in April last year, Zuma and six gov­ern­ment depart­ments agreed to pay R7 mil­lion from Maswabi’s R120 mil­lion law­suit.

Maswabi claims he formed the Work­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Union on Zuma’s in­struc­tion in 2014. Its sole pur­pose was to desta­bilise the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) af­ter it un­seated the ANCaligned Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) in the plat­inum belt. He was also tasked to work with state in­tel­li­gence in spy­ing on Amcu.

This was at a time of height­ened ten­sions be­tween the NUM and Amcu in their bat­tle to con­trol the plat­inum mines. Their ri­valry had turned vi­o­lent, lead­ing to the deaths of more than 40 peo­ple in Marikana in the North West.

Maswabi fur­ther claims that the union was fi­nanced by gov­ern­ment. Mil­lions of rands were de­posited in the bank, brought in by se­cret ser­vice agents in cash, and Maswabi was pro­vided with any car he chose.

Then sud­denly, fund­ing stopped, leav­ing him swim­ming in debt.

Maswabi says Zuma stopped tak­ing his calls. This af­ter they had held meet­ings on how the union would op­er­ate and the pres­i­dent had as­sured him that ev­ery­thing would be taken care of fi­nan­cially.

Maswabi’s claims will never be tested in court be­cause the gov­ern­ment has de­cided not to ad­mit any guilt but rather, to set­tle the mat­ter out of court.

Maswabi was promised R7 mil­lion to with­draw his R120 mil­lion law­suit against state of­fi­cials.

It has also emerged that State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo agreed to con­tinue “us­ing” Maswabi when­ever he was “needed” by the State Se­cu­rity Agency once the le­gal ac­tion was set­tled. Details in this re­gard were left open-ended in the doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted to the court.

City Press has seen the set­tle­ment agree­ment. In the doc­u­ment, marked “SE­CRET” at the top of each page, it states that Mahlobo will fa­cil­i­tate the pay­ment and that he “agrees to use the ser­vices of Maswabi as and when re­quired” af­ter Maswabi has “is­sued a no­tice of with­drawal of the court ac­tion against all de­fen­dants”.

“Mahlobo will en­ter into a sep­a­rate ser­vice-level agree­ment with Maswabi and will be sub­jected to the reg­u­la­tion that guides the State Se­cu­rity Agency en­vi­ron­ment,” the doc­u­ment reads.

Maswabi told City Press that he was “not against Pres­i­dent Zuma and not do­ing this in an at­tempt to dent his rep­u­ta­tion”, but was un­happy that those work­ing with Zuma had failed to honour their un­der­tak­ing to the Work­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Union and him.

“What I know is that the pres­i­dent has in­structed those work­ing un­der him to sort out this mat­ter, hence an outof-court set­tle­ment [is on the ta­ble]. It is now over a year and they have failed to honour the ... agree­ment,” he said.

Amcu be­came the top union in the plat­inum belt, un­seat­ing the NUM, an af­fil­i­ate of labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu. Amcu was ac­cused of fu­elling protests in the mines, and Maswabi’s union was meant to desta­bilise it and spy on those who were spear­head­ing strikes.

Maswabi, for­merly an Amcu branch chair­per­son, turned against the peo­ple he rep­re­sented. In do­ing so, he placed his safety at risk but was re­as­sured that body­guards would come with the promised state pack­age.

“I was do­ing what was ex­pected of me and they were also de­liv­er­ing on their prom­ise,” said Maswabi.

“Things started fall­ing apart when ev­ery­thing stopped ... I de­cided to go the court route be­cause no one from the gov­ern­ment was lis­ten­ing to me. I had no choice.”

Mahlobo and the pres­i­dency did not re­spond to emailed ques­tions.

David Mahlobo

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