Fit for a president: Pyjamas from Berlusconi

President Jacob Zuma’s much-awaited declaration of interests lists gifts and sponsorships ranging from a rose bowl from Absa boss Maria Ramos to free accommodation for his first wife in Morningside.

It states that Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma enjoyed the “use of property in Morningside, Durban courtesy of Mr Malek at a value unknown”.

It was reported late last month that the president’s wife had been living in Abdul Rahim Malek’s eight-bedroom house in Morningside free of charge since 2005. The story made headlines when Malek gave the First Lady notice to move but subsequently relented, saying she could continue living there with her two children.

The declaration of “interests, gifts and responsibility” reveals the names of companies and organisations to which Ntuli-Zuma, fellow first ladies Sizakele Zuma and Thobeka Madiba and the president’s fiancé Bongekile Gloria Ngema are linked.

But it is his first wife who holds the lion’s share of active company memberships—nine altogether—and serves as director for two non-profit companies—Heavenly Promise and the MaNtuli Foundation.

Under sponsorships for his spouses, the president declared that Ntuli-Zuma and Sizakele Zuma were the guests of Yvonne Chaka Chaka at Sun City when the singer celebrated 25 years in music industry.

Blue pyjamas
Ntuli-Zuma’s gifts include a tea set and a lamp shade from United States First Lady Michelle Obama, while Sizakele Zuma received a foot spa from former British first lady Cherie Blair.

Diplomatic gifts bestowed on the president included blue pyjamas from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also gave Zuma two bathrobes, two sets of bedsheets, two jackets, two pairs of sunglasses, two leather bags and a tie in July last year when Italy hosted the G8 summit.

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak weighed in with a multi-coloured carpet.

Closer to home, Zuma’s gifts include a party thrown by Khulabuse Zuma—the president’s nephew and a prominent KwaZulu-Natal businessman—and the Nkandla community to celebrate his election as president. The cost of the party is not listed.

Neither is that of a Christmas party for orphans in Nkandla organised and paid for by the JZ Education RDP Trust Fund, on behalf of the president.

The rose bowl and flowers was sent to Zuma by Ramos in November. Nomonde Mapetla, chairperson of Khula Enterprise Finance, gave the president oranges, olives, honey and fresh dates.

Zuma made the declaration last Wednesday, eight months after he was due to do so and under intense pressure from media and opposition parties. By law he was supposed to declare his assets, liabilities and financial interests within 60 days of taking office.

His lawyer Michael Hulley said the process was delayed by “anomalies” in the code of ethics, one being that the president was supposed to adjudicate his own acceptance of gifts as the code of ethics states that members of the executive need his permission to accept gifts worth more than R1 000.

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu suggested that the delay was caused by the sheer size of Zuma’s family. He now faces an internal disciplinary process for breaching protocol.

The declaration does not mention Zuma’s dependent children or any business interests. Hulley confirmed that his assets and liabilities have been declared in the confidential section of the register of members’ interests. This included responsibilities relating to the president’s 20 children.

“Being mostly of a tender age they cannot hold interests in their own title and would therefore not figure in the public declaration”.

Hulley reiterated that the president does not hold interest in any companies. - Sapa

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