Who is Robert Gumede?

Robert Gumede. (M&G)

Robert Gumede. (M&G)

Robert Gumede celebrated his 50th birthday party with a free concert at the Kanyamazane Stadium in Nelspruit. Artists such as multi-Grammy award winner hip-hop star Rick Ross, Keith Sweat, Kuli Chana and Zahara performed at the celebration. Here's a little bit of background on who exactly Gumede is.

Born in 1963, Robert Gumede was one of seven children and was brought up in Nelspruit. He began working as a golf caddie at the age of seven, according to his CV.

After school he worked as a gardener and a petrol attendant to supplement his single mother's income.

Although his resumé on the websites of his companies claims he obtained a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand, the university said Gumede graduated in 1986 with a Dip Juris, a diploma. Gumede "thanked" the Mail & Guardian for "bringing it to my attention.

As you know I am not responsible for putting information online, neither have I claimed to have a BJuris."

He said he had never given himself a title or qualifications "that have benefited me to gain business or a position in a company".

After studying, Gumede worked as a clerk and prosecutor at the Kabokweni Magistrate's Court.

In Mpumalanga he managed and owned the Dangerous Darkies football team, which he took from the lower leagues to the Premier Soccer League.

In 1992 he moved to Johannesburg, where he was the business development executive of LTA (now Grinaker-LTA). In the mid-1990s he registered several Gijima companies, including a firm that provided protection services to the Mpumalanga government.

His first major deal came in 1997 when he formed a joint venture, Phambili Information Technologies, with Comparex's local arm, PQ Africa.

Phambili was awarded multimillion-rand tenders by the police and the departments of justice and correctional services to develop ­electronic case-docket systems.

In 1999 a Gijima consortium, which included Unisys, Marpless and NEC, was awarded an R800-million Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) contract to develop an electronic identification system.

In August 2000 he bought 26% of Applied Card Technologies (ACT) from John Sterenborg to enter the smart-card market. A year later Gijima bought the balance of ACT's shares.

In 2002 Gijima Afrika Smart Technologies (GAST) won a multimillion-rand tender from Telkom to produce phonecards.

Gumede shot to prominence in 2005 when listed IT firm AST sold 37% of its shares to Gijima and the company changed it name to GijimaAST. All the original Gijima companies changed their names to Guma.

In 2007 Gumede became executive chairman of the listed GijimaAST.

In the same year the department of home affairs awarded the company a R2-billion "Who Am I Online" tender for systems integration. But the department controversially cancelled the contract in April this year, saying the agreement was "invalid". Negotiations to settle the matter are ongoing.

He is open about his financial backing of the ANC and is a close friend of former ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa.

Gumede's lavish wedding to Portia Mkhize in March 2010 was attended by then police national commissioner General Bheki Cele, former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu and South Africa's then high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Zola Skweyiya.

Through Guma, Gumede also has an interest in tourism group Tourvest, Canadian coal-power company CIC Energy and the Gauteng Lions rugby union.

In 2010, he was appointed chairperson of the South African chapter of the South Africa-Russia Business Council. He is divorced from his first wife, Zongi, and has four children.


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