The deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma, is to lunch with top international fund managers on Wednesday at Citigroup, his personal assistant Nomonde Mkhosana confirmed on Monday.
This follows a report posted on the Financial Times (FT) website late on Sunday that Citigroup was to host a dozen top international fund managers to a private lunch with Zuma.
Gus Felix, the managing director of Citigroup told the FT that he had approached Zuma two months ago.
”People are attending this lunch as part of many meetings in South Africa … I know they are curious and will be taking notes.”
This was ”a clear sign the markets are preparing for the possibility the controversial populist will be the country’s next president”, the report said.
Zuma, if not the frontrunner, is one of the two clear favourites to be voted leader of the ANC in December, the report said.
If successful, given the party’s electoral dominance, he would become the country’s president at the next national election, in 2009.
His relationship with the South African Communist Party and the unions ”have led business people to fret he would lead the country to the left”, said the report.
”Mr Zuma’s principal rival is old ally turned bitter enemy Mr Mbeki. While he cannot run again as state president, he is pushing for a third term as party leader — primarily, it is believed, to stop Mr Zuma,” said the report.
Jeff Gable, head of research at Absa Capital told the FT: ”Investors do not like uncertainty. They know little or nothing about what economic policy would look like under him. His job as the frontrunner now is to start speaking to the stakeholders of the economy and financial markets.
”It’s up to the Zuma camp to reach out to try to have people understand what a Zuma presidency would look like,” he said.
Last week, a resolution recommending Zuma for president of the ANC was adopted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
This comes as judgement was reserved by the Supreme Court of Appeal on September 21 in the appeal hearing of Zuma and French arms company Thint against efforts to get documents from Mauritius.
Zuma and Thint appealed against an application by the national director of public prosecutions to get original documents from Mauritius the state wants for a possible corruption trial against Zuma. – Sapa