Zuma's sugar daddies jump ship

Jacob Zuma’s friends in the business community, who were once at his beck and call and helped him live large, now appear to be preparing to jump ship, and not one of them has contributed a cent to his legal fees.

Using the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust, which was formed after his dismissal from government, Zuma is trying to put together a R12-million war chest to foot the bill for his anticipated corruption trial.

None of his traditional sugar daddies—including his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, Jürgen Kögl, a Johannesburg businessman and chief executive of empowerment company African Renaissance Holdings, Vivian Reddy, a Durban businessman and founder of Edison Power, and Nora Fakude-Nkuna, a businesswoman from Mpumalanga—has contributed funds to the trust.

And while the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has publicly announced that Zuma is its candidate to replace outgoing president Thabo Mbeki in 2009, none of the senior government officials and ministers in that province believed to support Zuma politically has agreed to support him financially.

In their place, a number of emerging BEE business people have heeded Zuma’s call for financial support. However, their donations have not been enough to reach the estimated R12-million necessary to cover Zuma’s past and future legal fees.

Don Mkhwanazi, chairperson of the trust, nonetheless remains confident. Zuma recently held a fundraising event in Durban at which an estimated R500 000 was raised in one night.
From the festive mood at the event, it would appear that Zuma’s new sugar daddies have pockets deep enough to help him weather the coming storms. (See side bar.)

Mkhwanazi said fundraising efforts have been affected by reports that government will pay R10-million towards Zuma’s legal fees.

“What we have now, together with the pledges made, brings us very close to the figure [R12-million], but a lot of money is outstanding because people who pledged have not paid while others are paying in instalments.

“One also has to consider that the original estimated figure will need to be revised because there are things like inflation and lawyers may revise their charges by the time Zuma is charged—say next year,” said Mkhwanazi.

Reddy, who has not contributed to the trust, denied he was abandoning Zuma, saying the fund’s trustees had not approached him to make a donation.

In the corruption case against Shaik, Reddy was found to have “assisted in the payment to the builder of Zuma’s Nkandla residence”. This week Reddy said his relationship with Zuma has not changed. “He remains a family friend and a godfather to my children … There has been no request for donations by the trust made to me, otherwise I would be more than happy to help out,” he said.

Many of Zuma’s staunchest supporters have contributed substantial sums in the past. Last year the Mail & Guardian reported that “Kögl’s asset management company, Cay Nominees, paid R656 000 towards the bond on Zuma’s flat”.

This excluded the “R183 000 paid by Kögl’s Cay Nominees on August 14 2001 to settle Zuma’s debt on a Mercedes E230”. Previously Fakude-Nkuna paid R140 000 to Malengret for construction at Zuma’s home.

The impression that Zuma’s traditional backers are distancing themselves has created new battles for the control of Zuma’s heart. At least five sources, some of them trustees, told the M&G that Zuma’s new BEE benefactors are accusing his Indian backers of wanting to benefit financially from his rise to power.

The African business group also claims to be Zuma’s old comrades who were “with him in the trenches” and that their support is a “principled one motivated by a belief that his rights are being trampled on”.

Ironically, Shaik is appealing to the Constitutional Court against his conviction and sentence on the grounds that he supported Zuma out of friendship.

A trustee of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust Fund said the African business clique was determined to wrest Zuma from the “control and the pockets” of his former Indian financiers.

A close Zuma ally said: “There is a concerted effort to rescue Zuma from the control of business people with dark motives. The whole idea of appealing to the ordinary people ukuthi bashaye indishi [to put money together] to fund Zuma’s legal woes, if the government did not pay, came from the realisation that Zuma had to be rescued from any influence by business people.

“If Zuma is to be indebted to anyone in the future it should be to the masses of our people, who have stood behind him through thick and thin.”

An observer said the conflict reflected the general mistrust between Africans and Indians in Durban. “When the Africans hold secret briefings with Zuma or have braais with him, not one of the Indians is there,” said the source. “Similarly, when Schabir was taken to jail, Zuma supporters did not show up to support him. They were making it clear that a Zuma supporter is not necessarily a Shaik supporter.”

Money pours in at fundraiser
Expensive Mercedes, big BMWs and the latest SUVs were parked bumper-to-bumper along the driveway of a double-storey home in the leafy suburb of Hillcrest outside Durban on Saturday night. More shiny cars from upmarket addresses lined the streets, as the sound of Jacob Zuma’s signature tune Awuleth’ umshini wami boomed from massive speakers that could be heard from the gateway.

The mood was festive. How could it not be, at this R20 000-a-head cocktail party, attended by those in the forefront of South Africa’s new money.

The party’s host, Elias Khumalo, was reluctant to reveal the names of specific guests, arguing that their association with the Zuma camp could compromise future business ventures.

The business of the evening—raising more than R500 000 to fund Zuma’s legal fees and various social development programmes—was wrapped up in less than three hours.

One of the guests said those who attended financed Zuma’s cause, including his social responsibility programmes, which incorporate a Christmas party for hundreds of orphans who are benefiting from the Jacob Zuma Education Trust. Zuma founded the trust while he was an provincial minister in KwaZulu-Natal as part of the ministerial discretionary fund.

Zuma himself did not stay long at the event as he was off to attend the reburial of the embalmed body of his political mentor, the late SACP secretary general Moses Mabhida.

But members of Zuma’s inner circle in Durban ate and boozed past midnight. The mood in Zuma’s camp is high these days with his chief lawyer Advocate Kemp J Kemp reportedly confident that his team can triumph over the National Prosecuting Authority should it bring corruption charges against Zuma.

The Zuma camp has obtained information that the national Director of Prosecutions, Vusi Pikoli, is already considering a draft indictment given to him by the prosecutions team following the Supreme Court of Appeal decision to uphold the conviction and sentences imposed on Zuma’s erstwhile financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

Don Mkhwanazi, chairperson of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust, said these gatherings would grow more frequent because the trust, “having realised that some businesses were scared to be seen to be pouring money into the trust”, has developed a new strategy. It is now relying on business people who are happy to support Zuma publicly to collect money from their “shy friends”.

“One of the things we did was to identify people in business to get their own friends, about 10 or 15 of them, and we would tell them we want R500 000 from them.

“Some have raised between R300 000 and R600 000,” he said. At the end of the party one organiser refused to reveal how much money was raised, but said: “We have reached our objective, we have achieved our goal.”—Zukile Majova

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