The leaders of a trade union that was allegedly established as a covert intelligence project claims they received instructions from President Jacob Zuma to spy on rival trade unions such as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
This is among the explosive claims made in a civil suit brought against Zuma and several government ministers and departments in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
Thebe Maswabi, one of the founding members of the Workers Association Union (WAU), a new trade union registered in 2014, is suing Zuma and several government ministers and departments for R114 million. Maswabi has claimed that he’d been instructed to establish the WAU, partly with the assistance of agents from the State Security Agency (SSA). However, the funding provided by Zuma and the other defendants allegedly stopped, leaving Maswabi in debt.
According to Maswabi’s particulars of claim filed at court, a SSA agent facilitated the first meeting between him and other would-be members of the union and Zuma in September 2013. The alleged meeting took place at the Union Buildings. There were a total of four meetings with Zuma throughout September and October 2013, according to court papers.
The alleged meetings were held in the wake of the Marikana massacre in 2012 and in the context of the ongoing violent strikes in the platinum sector.
“The first defendant (Zuma) had indicated that the police, army and intelligence will work hand-in-hand with the plaintiffs (Maswabi and the WAU) to bring stability within the platinum belt for the interest of the national economy,” reads the particulars of claim.
The new union’s mandate seemed to be very much centered on destabilising Amcu.
Cash, cars for WAU members
According to the particulars of claim, it was decided at the meetings with Zuma that the WAU needed to “mobilise members who will be pro-negotiation for wages as compared to strike as envisaged within the operation of trade unions like Amalgamated Mineworkers and Construction Union (sic), hereafter referred to as ‘AMCU’.”
Maswabi and the WAU were allegedly also instructed “to acquire sensitive information from their rival trade unions especially on instigators and perpetuators of illegal strike within those unions’ meetings and plenary sessions and to provide digital or documentary proof of such attendance.”
The new union’s members would also “provide feedback and progress of intelligence work which would ordinarily have been carried out by the third defendant (state security minister David Mahlobo and the SSA),” according to the court papers.
Maswabi has also filed several attachments in support of his claim, including bank statements that show large amounts of money being paid into the account of a WAU member, and pictures of cars that were allegedly supplied to the WAU by members of the SSA.
News24 has sent detailed queries about Zuma’s alleged involvement in the matter to presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga. He has not provided us with a response.
A “registration of a trade union” document submitted to the department of labour for the WAU’s official registration contained a cellphone number that was traced to Monde Gadini, husband of Bonisiwe Makhene, Zuma’s legal adviser.
Gadini is also known as a SSA operative with links to the agency’s Special Operations Unit (SOU).