Former president Jacob Zuma has been trapped in a severe fight between his life partner and nephew over a tender business bargain turned out badly.
Zuma’s nephew, Zobaphi, blamed Zuma’s long-term life partner, Nonkululeko Mhlongo, of cheating him out of at any rate R500,000 because of him after the two scored a tender to build water pump stations.
Mhlongo says she doesn’t owe the young Zuma a penny and marked him a “liar” and a “devil”.
Zobaphi revealed the issue to Zuma, yet the former president neglected to convince his other half to follow through on their understanding.
Zobaphi told The Sowetan that Zuma exhorted him to seek after legitimate activity to recover the assets from Mhlongo.
“This matter was reported to ubaba by myself and a gentleman whom we contracted. When his intervention did not yield any progress, he gave me permission to use whatever means necessary to recoup the money owed to me and a worker,” Zobaphi said.
Mhlongo is a Pietermaritzburg-based businesswoman and mother of two of Zuma’s children.
She was drawn nearer by Zobaphi to offer business to sub-contract in a water pumps construction project.
Mhlongo’s organization, Bucebo General Trading, if “block works” for Cmc di Ravenna, an Italian development organization, on two water siphoning tasks, Mdungela and Mkhalazi siphons, in Nkandla.
The agreement among Mhlongo and Zobaphi, which The journalist has seen, states that benefit or misfortune sharing must be 50/50 between the two. However, he said he was made up for directing day by day work during the task.
“I am also still owed about R15,000 for the use of my bakkie. We used it for 10 weeks,” he said.
Patrick Khanyile, a human resources manager at Cmc di Ravenna, confirmed he had met the former president with Zobaphi twice to ask for his intervention.
“The former president said he washed his hands and we must do what we need to do. MaMhlongo then told us she paid the money into Zoba’s wife’s account, but his wife died long ago and the proof of payment she showed us is of an account that does not exist,” he said.
Khanyile said Cmc di Ravenna had paid Mhlongo all the money owed to her [R1,796,762.04]. He estimated Zobaphi’s share at between R500,000 and R600,000.
Zobaphi said he was stunned when Mhlongo let him know in January there was no cash.
When reached by the journalist, Mhlongo denied Zobaphi’s cases, contending that she was owed cash since she ran the project from her own record.
“I owe him nothing. In fact, the project owes me. He’s a bloody liar. He’s the devil. I carried the losses for the whole project. He’s lying and I’m very hurt,” she said.
Mhlongo said they were at first intended to get more than R1.7m for the agreement yet had gotten far less as it was later chosen by the principle temporary worker that all the sub-contractors would be paid the same.
She said this meant that the calculations of just over R1.7m that they had based the project on had changed, and they now had to work with amounts below R1.3m.
“We ran into problems because it meant the calculations we had had to change because they said all laborers would get the same. Our calculations were very wrong,” she said.
She said this meant the company was going to run the project at a loss.
“We could not even afford general workers’ salaries and I had to put in my own money,” she said.
“I do not have the exact amount [that I put in] but I did. I was not getting anything from the project. I used my kids’ money to fund it. I was paying general workers from my own pocket.”
Mhlongo said she regrets working with Zobaphi, who she said thinks nothing about business.
I should have done this work myself because I qualified. This is the last thing. He’s banking on hopes of getting millions because he’s not in business. He doesn’t understand a business can run at a loss,” she said.