Zuma’s campaign team

A Mail & Guardian investigation has thrown light on a number of lesser-known members of Jacob Zuma’s inner circle who are central to his campaign to lead the ANC and the country.

All are based in, or originated in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, his main support base. Some are black businessmen apparently seeking to restore their fortunes through a Zuma presidency. And they include new players who have risen to prominence in the Zuma camp as his established allies and financiers, such as Durban multi-millionaire Vivian Reddy, “appear to be either pulling out or exercising more caution”.

They are key to Zuma’s strategy of reaching out to the ANC grass roots, specifically by minimising the effect of his run-ins with the law and propagating the idea that he is the victim of a political conspiracy. One of Zuma’s backers, Durban attorney Comfort Ngidi, said: “Most of these people do not necessarily have high profiles, but they are proficient at mass mobilisation.”

Apart from Zuma’s obvious backers in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), his multi-pronged campaign team includes various forums and private individuals who manage his life as a presidential candidate.

In addition to such figures as KwaZulu-Natal economic development minister Zweli Mkhize, whose friendship with Zuma dates back to exile days and who is seen as the latter’s “key strategist”, they include:

Elias Khumalo. A former trade unionist and now Zuma’s personal adviser, Khumalo’s influence has grown steadily since the latter’s dismissal as vice-president. He first made contact with Zuma in 1993 as a member of a “concerned Zulu” group seeking help in negotiating an end to KwaZulu-Natal’s political violence. He has since moved into the world of black economic empowerment (BEE), co-founding information technology company Multi-consult. Zuma delivered the keynote address at the company’s launch at a Durban hotel in the late 1990s.

Muzi Kunene. A former pastor-turned-BEE beneficiary in the late 1990s, Kunene is Multi-consult’s co-founder and the man at the centre of the “hoax e-mail saga” — for which he has been charged. A photograph of him with Zuma was found at Kunene’s house during a police raid connected with the e-mail scandal.

Sizwe Shezi. President of the National Youth Council, Shezi leads a new breed of young ANC and communist cadres loyal to Mkhize. One of Zuma’s most committed backers, he is a trustee of the Jacob Zuma Children’s Trust, formed to educate children orphaned by faction fights in Zuma’s home area of Nkandla. He is also a trustee of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust.

Don Mkhwanazi. A lifelong friend of Zuma, this KwaZulu-Natal businessman is referred to as Zuma’s “finance minister”. He is the chairperson of Don Mkhwanazi Investment as well as the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust.

However, Mkhwanazi has come down in the world since the heady days when he led the Central Energy Fund and appointed sleazy former Liberian politician Emmanuel Shaw as his adviser. Following a M&G exposÃ

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