Keeping it in the family
In the week that the presidency confirmed that Jacob Zuma’s women and children are costing the taxpayer more than R15-million a year, an investigation by the Mail & Guardian suggests they are also bidding for private benefit from their presidential connections.graphic.
It gives a disturbing picture of the Zuma family’s push into business, especially in the period since Zuma’s ascension to the ANC presidency at Polokwane in December 2007.
Of the 16 adults—wives, lovers and children—who can be linked to Zuma, 15 are in business, accounting, with Zuma, for 134 company directorships or memberships of close corporations. Only four of these appear to be Section 21 ‘not for profit” companies.
At least 83 companies (62%) have been registered in the post-Polokwane period when Zuma’s political future was secured.
Their interests range across the economic spectrum and include property, resources, trade, mining, telecommunications and information technology.
The M&G has not been able to establish what all the companies do—many may be inactive—but reporters asking questions have, with a few exceptions, faced suspicion and hostility. We invite readers to help fill in the gaps by going to www.mg.co.za/zumainc.
Information gathered by the M&G has already raised some worrying issues:
- Zuma has a history of relying on others to help support his wives and children, notably through his loans of more than R4-million from Schabir Shaik, which led to Shaik’s conviction for corruption. Zuma makes no mention of whether or how the Shaik and other loans have been repaid or are being serviced. The confirmation in Zuma’s declaration that businessman Abdul Malek is providing Nompumelelo Zuma with free accommodation in a multimillion-rand Durban mansion suggests this trend is continuing;
- The emergence of political entrepreneurs who appear to have used Zuma’s children to secure their transition from the Mbeki era to the Zuma camp;
- Business connections and practices in his wider family that are controversial; and
- Zuma’s declaration of interests makes no mention of other properties with which he has been associated, such as the house in Forest Town where he moved shortly after being sacked as deputy president in 2005 and which still seems to be occupied by members of his family. Our investigation suggests public money was used to facilitate the purchase of this home by a Zuma loyalist.
While taxpayers are supporting all the president’s wives, their involvement in multiple companies suggests they are also trying to cash in on the Zuma cachet.
Zuma’s fourth wife, Nompumelelo, commonly known as MaNtuli, is linked to 10 companies, all but two registered after Zuma became ANC president.
In one, Intsika Yembokodo Development, she shares directorships with gospel star Deborah Fraser, Zwelinzima Vavi’s wife, Noluthando, and Ukhozi FM DJ Dudu Khoza.
The company was formed in 2008 and registered at a property in Sunninghill, Sandton, which is owned by Durban businessman Vivian Reddy, a well-known Zuma benefactor.
Fraser, one of the artists commissioned to perform at ANC rallies and parties, is also a director of MaNtuli’s Vuna Imbewu.
The presidency has previously downplayed her business interests, claiming the companies are mostly not active and none is trading with the government.
Zuma’s first wife, Sizakele Khumalo, is an active member of two companies, while another, Tobeka Madiba, is linked to five.
Fiancée Bongekile Gloria Ngema, with whom Zuma has a seven-month-old son, is an active member of five companies.
Opposition parties have also asked Scopa to investigate the awarding by the KwaZulu-Natal legislature of a multimillion-rand catering tender to Nkululeko Mhlongo, who has two children with Zuma.
Zuma’s attorney Michael Hulley had not answered questions when the M&G went to press, saying that he required more time.
Two of the most important players in Zuma Inc are not his children but his nephews: KwaZulu-Natal taxi boss Mandla Gcaba and businessman Khulubuse Zuma.
As de facto leader of the extensive Gcaba family, following the assassination of his father Simon Gcaba in 1996 and his elder brother Moses in 1997, Mandla is one of the most powerful figures in the long-distance taxi business.
Particularly controversial is his murder acquittal on charges of ordering a hit on those responsible for the killing of Moses.
A factor was the disappearance of a witness, S’bu Mpisane, a metro police constable, whose BMW was used as the hitmen’s getaway car. Mpisane later reappeared and rose to fame as Durban’s richest metro cop.
Just as controversial was last year’s award—without a tender—of a contract to run Durban’s troubled metro bus fleet. It went to a company linked to Mandla Gcaba following the collapse of the previous operator, Remant Alton, of which Gcaba was also a director.
Gcaba is listed as a director with Zuma’s son, Mxolisi, of Inkanyamba Beverages; and he shares directorships in six companies with another Zuma nephew, Khulubuse.
Khulubuse rose to national prominence last year when he teamed up with Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa, to form Aurora Empowerment Systems, which bid successfully for the assets of liquidated mining group Pamodzi Gold.
However, question marks have emerged about the source of Aurora’s funding, which was supplied by Malaysian and Middle Eastern backers.
Jacob Zuma’s attorney, Michael Hulley, is named as a director on the company website, but does not appear to be registered as such. The same goes for Malaysian Islamic banking veteran Raja Zainal Alam Shah. The obscure Abdullah Belhoul of the United Arab Emirates, named in early official releases as a prospective director, has dropped off the radar screen entirely.
Six months after her father was elected ANC president in December 2007 Duduzile Zuma, then 26, was asked to join the board of technology giant Sahara Computers.
Duduzile is one of five children of Jacob Zuma and Kate Mantsho, who committed suicide in 2000.
Duduzile and her twin brother, Duduzane, are both linked to Sahara’s Gupta family through directorships.
Duduzile has the biggest public profile of all Zuma’s children; she was at the president’s side during his rape trial and testified in his defence.
The Gupta family entered South Africa’s IT industry in the 1990s and has established Sahara as one of the biggest suppliers of PCs in the country.
Closely linked to former president Thabo Mbeki’s confidant Essop Pahad (who sits on the board of Sahara Holdings), the Guptas moved soon after the ANC’s Polokwane conference to get someone close to Zuma on board, turning to Duduzile.
And Duduzane Zuma is a co-director with Rajesh Gupta, brother of Sahara MD Atul Gupta, in Mabengela Investments and Islandsite Investments 254.
Atul Gupta and Mvelaphanda Resources chair Lazarus Zim are also directors of Islandsite, which is said to have interests in uranium.
At the closing ceremony of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 series hosted in South Africa, Jacob Zuma acknowledged Atul Gupta during his closing address. Sahara is a major cricket sponsor.
In October last year Atul Gupta was also reappointed by Zuma to South Africa’s International Marketing Council, which oversees the country’s branding.