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Johannesburg - Businessman David Mabilu has accused Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale of running a smear campaign against him because of sour grapes over a R300 million doctors’ homes contract.
He said Mathale and his lieutenants, including Polokwane-based businessman Jimmy Kourtobellides, met at the Mekete Lodge on September 24 and hatched a plan to sabotage and tarnish his image.
Mabilu said Mathale later instructed Limpopo Health MEC Norman Mabasa to hand over his file before he was subjected to negative media reports about the deal.
The property developer said the premier blamed him for a rumour circulating in Limpopo that Mathale had unsuccessfully tried to solicit a kickback from him in relation to the same deal at a meeting in Sandton in June.
This came after the National Treasury gave the Limpopo Department of Health the go-ahead to exercise its option to buy the property from Mabilu, rather than lease it as per their contract signed in 2010.
The Limpopo Department of Health had awarded the contract to Mabilu’s company, Promafco, before President Jacob Zuma placed it and four others under administration, effectively taking it from Mathale’s control.
The deal involved the leasing of 112 luxury units to accommodate the province’s doctors in Polokwane.
Mabilu shot to fame by flying celebrities and the political elite, including former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, to Mauritius for his lavish wedding last year.
In an exclusive interview with The Star this week, Mabilu confirmed he had met Mathale at a meeting requested by the premier in June to discuss various issues.
Mabilu said Mathale’s request to see him, barely three weeks after the deal was sealed, took him by surprise because he had not heard from him for more than a year.
“I was surprised to receive a telephone call from Cassel Mathale requesting a meeting. Subsequently, on June 29, 2012 at about eight in the evening, Mr Mathale visited my office in Sandton as proposed.
“Upon his arrival, Mr Mathale congratulated me for the project and conclusion of the sale agreement of the property. The discussion continued. However, I am not privy to disclose the details thereof,” Mabilu said.
Mabilu added that Mathale later confronted him about the kickback allegations when they bumped into each other at a church service in Venda on September 23.
Alleged tender fraud, corruption and kickbacks have been blamed for Limpopo’s R2.2 billion cash-flow crisis.
“He confronted me and raised concerns about rumours that were allegedly being circulated by his political nemesis, stating that he tried to solicit payment from me during our meeting at my office in Sandton.
“He demonstrated utmost unhappiness about the alleged rumour and said he will deal with the matter relentlessly,” Mabilu said.
In response to the allegations, Mathale’s spokeswoman, Mashadi Mathosa, said on Wednesday that the premier had “known David Mabilu for a long time and we respect him as a credible businessman. “We wish him the best in all his business ventures,” Mathosa said.
Mabilu insisted that Mabasa had instructed his department to hand over his contract documents “as the premier required them urgently”.
Mabasa said Mathale “can ask for any document from me”, adding “I have no comment about that because I will be getting into allegations I do not know”.
“I do not know Mabilu. I have never talked about him. I have never had lunch about him and have never talked anything regarding him. If anything, I just appreciate the fact that he is a successful businessman,” Mabasa said.
A furious Kourtobellides Wendesday described Mabilu’s allegations against him as “outrageous”.
He denied conspiring with Mathale and others to smear and sabotage Mabilu. Kourtobellides said he and Mathale do not see eye to eye, adding he had not set foot at Mekete over the past five years.