Deputy President David Mabuza’s skeletons came back to haunt him when his former head of security and protocol broke the silence over allegations of political assassinations contained in a document that began circulating just before Mabuza was appointed the country’s second in command this week.
Welcome Nkuna, who worked in Mabuza’s office in Mpumalanga when he was still the premier, is mentioned in the affidavit written by alleged Mozambican hitman Fabiano Emanuel Dos Santos, also known as Josh.
Dos Santos allegedly wrote the affidavit with the assistance of late ANC politician James Nkambule, who shot to prominence in 2001 when he alleged that then businessman President Cyril Ramaphosa, businessman Tokyo Sexwale and former ANC treasurer-general and Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa had conspired to topple then president Thabo Mbeki.
The affidavit first circulated in 2010 after the assassination of Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who was shot dead in January 2005 when he was exposing tender corruption in the R1.2 billion Mbombela stadium.
The explosive statement accuses Mabuza of having ordered Mohlala’s and other politicians’ assassinations.
The document says Nkuna allegedly travelled to Mozambique to hunt down Dos Santos, who had escaped because he feared being assassinated. Dos Santos’ relatives allegedly told Nkuna that he [Josh] had died.
Nkuna said on social media this week “the master” (using Phosa’s picture) had participated in redistributing the affidavit, alleging it was an attempt to thwart Mabuza’s appointment as deputy president of the country.
Ramaphosa appointed Mabuza as his deputy when he reshuffled the Cabinet last Monday.
The allegations have been doing the rounds for nearly a decade and have been used to define Mabuza’s legacy.
Mabuza denied them and threatened to expose the nitty-gritty of what happened later.
Although Nkuna did not mention Phosa by name, he listed a series of known incidents that involve Phosa, saying they allegedly proved the master had a stone to grind with Mabuza.
“The rehash [of the document]”, Nkuna said, “is nothing but a final kick of desperation, having failed to use a protection order against [Mabuza].
"Even with the use of the name of the former president Nelson Mandela, the people rejected them,” Nkuna said, referring to Phosa’s unsuccessful campaign to be ANC president last year.
The protection order Nkuna mentioned refers to an interim protection order against Mabuza, obtained by conservationist Fred Daniel in the Carolina Magistrates’ Court three weeks ago.
Daniel and Phosa are business partners.
Daniel claimed Mabuza had been behind a campaign to drive him out of the Badplaas area by influencing government departments to refuse granting him permits to keep the Big Five and other predators at his ecotourism and game reserve business – the Cradle of Life – since he exposed the biggest land claims scandal in 2003, which exposed how land prices were inflated.
The court will make a final ruling in April on whether Daniel gets the protection order against Mabuza.
Talking to City Press this week, Nkuna alleged the master was hellbent on toppling Mabuza’s political rise by distributing all sorts of controversial and untested documents in the ANC’s provincial and national conferences that were also discredited.
One such allegation was that Mabuza was a spy which led to a prolonged defamation case in which Mabuza sued Phosa for R10 million and lost.
The report alleged Mabuza was code-named PN485 and informed the apartheid government about the political activities of senior ANC leaders, such as former president Jacob Zuma, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the late Albertina Sisulu between 1985 and 1993.
Phosa said: “I’m not going to dignify nonsense. He [Nkuna] did not mention my name; he will deny and say I’m a fool. I can’t even sue him.”
Nkuna said the onslaught against Mabuza started after the provincial ANC’s 2008 conference in Mpumalanga, which Mabuza won by a narrow margin against former Mbombela mayor Lassy Chiwayo. Nkuna said Chiwayo was the master’s “golden boy”.
They also tried and failed to sabotage Mabuza’s election for a second term as Mpumalanga ANC chairperson in 2012 and to sabotage his bid to be deputy president at the December conference, using various documents that were discredited.