Sunday Times E-Edition

Mashaba ‘funded his unauthorised biography’


● A book on Herman Mashaba by political analyst Prince Mashele purporting to be an unauthorised biography was actually funded by the ActionSA leader himself, according to an agreement between the two.

It has emerged that Mashaba undertook to pay R12.5m to Mashele to fund the research of the book, in a secret arrangement they reached in 2019.

Senior researcher and consultant Brutus Malada, who worked with Mashele on the book, has accused the author of “duping” the public by not disclosing to publisher Jonathan Ball and the nation that Mashaba funded the book, titled The Outsider: The Unauthorised Biography of Herman Mashaba.

Malada has revealed that he was paid more than R3m for his role. He has written to the publishers, informing them of the agreement and alerting them to Mashele’s failure to acknowledge his input. He asked the publishers to recall the book and make corrections. Under the agreement, Mashaba was committed to interviews for at least six hours a month. Mashele also committed to granting Mashaba access to the manuscript for comment and to make “necessary changes” before publication. Publishing director at Jonathan Ball Publishers Annie Olivier said they only became aware that the book was funded by Mashaba three weeks after its release at the end of April 2022. “We view this as a serious non-disclosure on the part of the author, but he maintains that his agreement with Mr Mashaba did not compromise his independence. We trust readers will be the judge of that.”

Mashele, through his lawyers, has demanded an immediate apology and retraction of Malada’s letter to Jonathan Ball

within seven days. Dewald van den Berg of Werksman Attorneys said Mashele viewed Malada’s letter with “serious circumspect and rejects” the proposal to recall the book.

“As a result of the defamatory statements detailed in your letter, our client has suffered damage to his good name and reputation and will suffer further such damage for as long as you do not retract your letter and also in the event that you publish any further content of and concerning our client of a defamatory and derogatory nature,” reads the letter to Malada.

The Sunday Times has seen correspondence between Mashele and Malada discussing the book. The initial legal agreement stated it would be published by Pan Macmillan SA and that, because he had agreed to pay Mashele a “research grant”, Mashaba could receive royalties. The research fee figure was put at R12,520,000 and Mashele was to have the book ready by December 1 2022.

Malada says that after he raised concerns about the book, his name did not make it onto the guest list at the launch on May 9 at the Wits School of Governance.

“On Wednesday, May 10, eNCA’s JJ Tabane interviewed Prince about the book and he lied to the public. He said he funded this project himself,” he said.

After seeing Mashele promoting the book on the TV show and learning for the first time it had been published, Malada wrote to Jonathan Ball.

Van den Berg said this was a “concerted campaign to defame and discredit” Mashele.

Malada was working for the City of Johannesburg in 2018 when he was approached by his then close friend, Mashele, who had a book idea on Mashaba. Things went awry after Malada’s wife, former mayor Mpho Phalatse, questioned the funding aspect during a social gathering at Mashele’s home in 2022.

“I thought it was a safe space, but the following day Prince sent a message saying he was concerned about the kind of information that I have shared with my wife. When I called him he expressed his discomfort, saying I should have not shared with Mpho that the book was funded by Herman.

“Prince then said I had broken his trust and we are at war. I said he must bring it on. I have not spoken to Prince since.”

In the letter to the publishers, Malada said he had a “moral and ethical obligation” to inform the publishers that they had been misled.

“Firstly, it is the lack of acknowledgment of my substantive role in the writing of the book. Secondly, is whether this book qualifies to be an ‘unauthorised’ biography as it purports to be. The last, yet not least important, is lack of disclosures about the relationship between the author and the subject,” wrote Malada.

Malada told Jonathan Ball Publishers that he’d worked with Mashele for about three years on the book, from April 2019 to February 2022. He told the publisher that the book did not meet the criteria of being an “unauthorised” biography because “my understanding of an unauthorised biography is that it is a book written without the ‘official permission or input of its subject’.

“Not only did Mashele get permission and input from his subject, he also received substantial funding to the tune of R12,520,000 for the book from the subject. It was from this funding that he was able to pay me in excess of R3.2m over three years for my role as a researcher.”

After raising his concerns with Jonathan Ball, Malada said Mashele slapped him with a cease and desist letter from Werksmans Attorneys. If Malada does not comply, Van den Berg said his client will sue him for defamation and seek an apology in court. Malada said he is prepared for a legal showdown.

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