ANC Veterans’ League President Snuki Zikalala said that while the ANC should not ignore allegations levelled against former Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, paying respects at his funeral for assisting the ANC and its members over the years was not wrong.
Watson died in a car accident last week and was laid to rest in his home town of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who is chair of the commission into state capture, announced last week that he had recently signed a directive for Watson to submit an affidavit to the inquiry.
Watson, whose family has close ties to the ANC and stood up against the apartheid government during the struggle for liberation, has been accused of bribing government officials in order to secure tenders.
Zikalala said: “It’s true that Gavin Watson helped a lot of our comrades who came out from jail, bought them clothes, took some of them to school, but what we are saying is: ‘If you were involved in the struggle against apartheid, that does not give you a licence to loot’.”
Some ANC leaders like Nomvula Mokonyane who spoke at his memorial service, and former president Jacob Zuma who addressed around 700 people gathered at his funeral, defended Watson.
They also pointed a finger at the media for persecuting the businessman and questioning the circumstances around his passing.
The former president, who described Watson as his friend and brother, said there were many attempts to kill members of his family during the apartheid era.
“They became a big asset of the African National Congress. The enemy hated this family so much, to a point they wanted them to be killed,” said Zuma.
The ANC has also been criticised for only acknowledging the Watson who was a “comrade”, but failing to speak about the serious allegations levelled against him.
Zikalala said while there was no court of law which was looking into Watson, he didn’t agree with a stance that refused to acknowledge the full picture.
“People should not think because they helped us, they have the right to loot. We totally don’t agree with that,” said Zikalala.
He said there was a great appreciation for Watson’s actions and had every right to send condolences to his loved ones.
Respect and dignity
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe refused to delve into allegations levelled against Watson during an SABC interview last week stating that in the “Africanist culture” it was best to give the deceased and their loved ones the best respect and dignity.
“It’s not a question of culture, if a person grieves its fine, you can send condolences but if a person has a stain, a tainted stain like Watson, you can send condolences to the family, we have every right to do that, but do not to praise the person,” said Zikalala.
“We all know that person has done a lot for our people, especially Robben Islanders, in the Eastern Cape, but mostly in the rugby, we appreciate that, but immediately he allegedly gets involved in corrupting ANC leaders, that we don’t agree with,” continued the Veterans’ League leader.
Zikalala said the country should wait to see how the National Prosecuting Authority approaches the many allegations made against Bosasa by its former COO Angelo Agrizzi.