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Gavin Watson: Five questions that remain unanswered

Gavin Watson's memorial service at Little Falls Christian church in Roodepoort. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Africa News Agency (ANA).

Gavin Watson's memorial service at Little Falls Christian church in Roodepoort. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Africa News Agency (ANA).

Published Sep 1, 2019


The death of former Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson took the country's attention back to the divided ANC, among other things, and also reminded the country of his role in the donation debacle involving the president.

It also reminded the country of the nearly forgotten role he played in resettling returning exiles in the early 90s. 

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Most of the returning exiles had nothing after the brutal apartheid regime destroyed their families and Watson stepped in and helped them to start afresh.

Former minister and ANC national executive committee member, Nomvula Mokonyane, on Friday in Gauteng during Watson's memorial service said many of those helped no longer wanted to be associated with him in the last days of his life.

We look at five things Watson could have shed light on before he died. 

1. Who are the ANC people who were helped by Watson to resettle after exile? 

Mokonyane’s revelations that Watson helped some ANC members to resettle upon their return from exile has opened an old debate about how some senior party members who were in exile for decades came back and became instant millionaires living in formerly whites only suburbs. It has always been argued that most senior members started tasting money after being deployed in government in 1994 and those who had money back then were bribed by big businesses in order to be used later. 

Now, the revelations by Mokonyane renew suspicions that Bosasa may have been a front company for the ANC to raise funds for campaigns and senior members but the deal went wrong in the latter years and Watson became a skunk. 

2.Exactly how much has Bosasa donated to the ANC?

Although it is now known that Bosasa gave R3 million to the ANC in March 2014 and the donation was acknowledged by the then party treasurer general, Dr Zweli Mkhize. It is not known how much Bosasa donated to the party between 1994 and 2018. 

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It is also not known whether Bosasa, just like the Guptas who gave money to the DA and ANC, gave money to other political parties or not. Only Gavin Watson knew that and he died without telling the truth. 

3. Who invited him to Andile Ramaphosa’s wedding in Uganda? 

Gavin Watson was among the 1000 guests at the Uganda wedding of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son, Andile which took place in August 2018. This was confirmed by Ramaphosa senior in an affidavit that was filed to the state capture commission in July this year. However, no one has come out to say he or she invited Watson to the traditional wedding.

Now that Watson is dead, we will never know the truth or even if someone comes out to say he or she invited the controversial businessman, we will never get to hear the side of Watson who can no longer speak for himself. 

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4. Who donated R500 000 to the CR17 campaign fund? 

The R500 000 donation to the CR17 campaign fund ahead of the 2017 Nasrec conference of the ANC has proven to be the Nkandla moment of Ramaphosa’s presidency. It has been used by the president’s opponents to attack and to paint him as no different to other ANC politicians who are embroiled in scandals.

Amid all this, it is yet to be known who from the CR17 campaign team, if any, asked for the donation. Was it a case of Bosasa trying to align itself with Ramaphosa whom kit was clear that he was the next president or someone asked for the money and regretted the decision later? 

With Watson dead after a questionable crash on Monday near OR Tambo International Airport, we will never get to the truth. 

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5. What led to the fallout between Watson and Angelo Agrizzi?

Angelo Agrizzi, the self confessed racist who once worked for Watson as Bosasa’s chief operating officer, exposed the alleged corruption at the company. This was after being inside the belly of the elephant for years.

His evidence showed that he was happy to work for Watson for many years despite the alleged illegal dealings, However, he would later record videos of the dealings and exposed it to the world.

What is not known and will remain a one-sided story, is what led to the fallout between the two men. The only person who could have helped to shed light on this was Watson. 

Political Bureau

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