Struggle hero Gavin Watson is Bosasa ‘boss from hell’
From having prayer meetings to a man who embarrasses his staff, former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder had nothing good to say about Watson.
Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, left, with then president Jacob Zuma on 11 April 2015 visiting the company’s Krugersdorp headquarters. Picture: Twitter
Despite being hailed as a hero whose family earned anti-apartheid credentials, to former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder, chief executive Gavin Watson was like a boss from hell.
On his first day of giving testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture yesterday, Van Tonder corroborated earlier evidence by former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi on corrupt activities at the facilities management company, describing Watson as “someone who demanded loyalty and would embarrass staff”.
Van Tonder, who began his career at Bosasa Operations as a financial clerk in 1995, had nothing positive to say about his ex-boss.
What was once a warm working relationship between the two began to deteriorate when Van Tonder stopped attending regular “prayer meetings” at Bosasa offices, championed by Watson.
“Initially I attended the prayer meetings at Bosasa which began in 2000,” he said.
“I viewed the prayer meetings as a tool Mr Watson used to determine one’s loyalty to him. He called on everyone to pray louder and you needed to indicate where you stood.”
Their relationship soured, however, when he stopped attending.
“The relationship deteriorated further because he did not need me. It was as if I had reached an expiry date. I was to go the same route as other colleagues who did illegal things for him.”
Things came to a head in 2017 when Watson prevented him from fulfilling his duties.
Van Tonder left Bosasa, now African Global Group, in 2017 after entering into a separation agreement with the company, after he was suspected of leaking birthday party pictures of former president Jacob Zuma to the press.