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'David Mabuza has declared war on me'

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza.
Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza.

David Mabuza‚ Mpumalanga premier and ANC deputy president‚ has been slapped with a temporary protection order preventing him from using his political power to harass a wealthy businessman who blew the whistle on an alleged land claims scam.

The order‚ granted this week‚ is the latest salvo fired in a decades-long dispute between the premier and Frederick Daniel.

"It’s been a long drawn out war. This man has cost me millions in a fight I did not pick‚" said Daniel‚ who has a game farm in the Badplaas area.

The interdict will see Mabuza‚ who was served with the papers on Wednesday‚ appearing in the Carolina Magistrate's Court on February 19 to explain why the order should not be made permanent.

The interim order bars Mabuza from using his position to:

• Directly or indirectly incite or instruct government departments‚ state institutions‚ parastatals‚ government officials or land claimants from stopping or sabotaging Daniel’s business by‚ among other things‚ withholding permits;

• Engage in activities that may be perceived to influence the decision-making body of any institution‚ parastatal or government body that negatively influences their administrative duties;

• Allow any civil servant to falsify minutes and reports or instruct the police to destroy official government documents;

• Interfere with the private life of Daniel‚ his family and staff; and

• Insult‚ intimidate or abuse Daniel.

Daniel believes Mabuza is behind a smear and sabotage campaign against him because of a multi-billion rand land claims scam‚ which he blew the whistle on in May 2004.

Daniel claims the scam had the blessing of Mabuza when he was Mpumalanga's MEC for Land and Agriculture.

It allegedly involved landowners being forced to sell at below market value‚ before the land was sold back to community trusts at inflated prices.

Daniel has a R2.5-billion law suit in the North Gauteng High Court against Mabuza and officials in several Mpumalanga government departments‚ including the provincial tourism and parks agency.

The law suit involves the loss of business because the province refused to grant him permits to operate a luxury nature reserve‚ marketed as the gateway to one of South Africa's most pristine biodiversity areas located between Barberton and Bapsfontein.

Mabuza has vowed to fight the matter‚ which has now drawn in the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Mabuza's spokesman‚ Zibonele Mncwango‚ disputed allegations that the premier was behind a campaign to drive Daniel out of business and off his land.

"The premier will surely challenge the court interdict because the reasons advanced in this order are baseless. The alleged intimidation of Daniel by the premier‚ and the manner in which this matter is presented‚ is viewed as an abuse of court processes.

"Any insinuations that the premier‚ both in his government and political role‚ has influenced the decisions of government institutions to disadvantage Daniel are not true. These are malicious allegations against the premier intended to tarnish his image. The premier has sought legal advice in this regard‚ therefore he cannot comment any further‚" said Mncwango.

Daniel claims he has proof of Mabuza's involvement in the campaign against him‚ including phone records. "These records show how the premier phoned me and threatened me."

Daniel said he had obtained the protection order‚ one of several he has had issued against various Mpumalanga officials‚ to ensure a mediation process currently underway between him and several provincial officials was not disrupted.

He said the mediation had started last week and so far gone smoothly.

"The mediation was ordered by the courts last year. It is about mending bridges‚ about ensuring that this rampant abuse is stopped in its tracks once and for all."

Daniel said the abuse and harassment that he had suffered‚ allegedly at the behest of Mabuza‚ had resulted in his farmlands and buildings being set alight‚ game fences destroyed‚ fraudulent search and seizure warrants‚ game illegally confiscated‚ tourists at his resort attacked‚ death threats to his family‚ harassment of his staff and intimidation of witnesses in cases he had against Mabuza.

"I got this protection order because I feel I need to be protected from this man who has declared war on me. The war has been to run me out of town and off my land‚" Daniel said.

The last thing he had wanted to do was to go to war with Mabuza. "I have much better things to do‚ especially given how dangerous this man is."

Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage said the organisation was concerned about political interference‚ intimidation and unruly conduct‚ which allegedly pointed to corruption and self-interest benefits for Mabuza.

"If the facts of the investigations underway prove that Mabuza knows of‚ or was party to fake land claims and other instances of abuse of authority on his watch as the premier‚ then he may very well be implicated in wrongdoing and must be held accountable for his actions‚” he said.

"What is more disconcerting to us is the subsequent abuse and alleged harassment of the whistle-blower‚ which clearly indicates the challenges faced by individuals who refuse to succumb to corruption.

"Outa will be investigating the claims made and will assist in uncovering any undue abuse of tax payers moneys in this regard."

Source: TMG Digital.

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