Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …




The Durban afternoon is boiling. The two weeks of rain recently mean that the air is laden with moisture, despite the blazing sun. Fortunately, it’s been a day of telephone work, so I’ve been able to wear as little as possible. The one meeting I had lined up for the day stood me up, so at least I haven’t had to put on long trousers and shoes to add to my suffering. It’s way too hot to go anywhere near the beach yet, even if I could. Copy is dragging, so there’s not much chance of getting the sweat off in the ocean before Friday.

Half clad or not, I’m dizzy from the heat. And the day-and-a-half of former intelligence boss Mo Shaik’s testimony to the Zondo commission. Shaik, a former ANC intelligence chief and the one-time head of the international section of the State Security Agency, has, since Monday morning, painted a pretty methodical — and chilling — picture of how the Gupta brothers exerted their influence over former president Jacob Zuma.

Shaik’s delivery in his presentation to Zondo has been calm, precise, like he’s giving a presentation at a conference. The contents of what he has had to say were intense, an ugly picture of life inside the Zuma administration.

Shaik has confirmed a lot of what we’ve heard at the commission already about how the Guptas — through Zuma — made government appointments and moved top civil servants unwilling to do their bidding from department to department or, as in Shaik’s case, out of government.

Shaik has also confirmed the lengths that Zuma went to to protect his “friends”, closing down the investigation by Shaik and other intelligence bosses into the brothers; offering a transfer to Canada as a diplomat to get him out of the picture.

I never thought I’d see Shaik drop the hammer on Zuma like this. It’s almost inconceivable, given the history between the two of them — and Shaik’s key role in Zuma’s rise to power.

Things must have gotreal ugly between them.

Shaik has been Team Zuma since back in the 1980s, right the way through his corruption trial and into the presidency.One of Shaik’s three brothers, Schabir, got 15 years in jail over the payments he made to Zuma when the former president was still economic affairs MEC in KwaZulu-Natal. Schabir — like Atul and company — used Zuma’s name and access to him like a club against his business rivals. He didn’t get the kind of return on investment the Guptas got though. Word had it at the time that Schabir was offered the opportunity to turn state witness against uBaba, but didn’t, taking the jail sentence rather than the deal on the basis of a presidential pardon that never materialised, despite the medical parole when he was on his deathbed.

The mobile goes. It’s a bra of mine who lives near the Sibaya Casino, with a tip-off. The brother went to Sibaya on Monday night for some car giveaway. It turns out he lost a grand playing roulette — he didn’t win the car either — but he did spot Ace Magashule and former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni heading into the casino’s Tatso restaurant.

Fair enough.Ace was in the province on Monday for meetings with the ANC leadership aboutthe proposed deal with the Inkatha Freedom Party giving them the mayorship of Abaqulusi municipality in Zululand in return for backing the ANC’s mayoral candidate in Johannesburg.

There’s nothing that outlandish about Ace popping into the casino.

Perhaps Ace is a punter and was having a nibble before a quick hand or two of blackjack. We all have to eat, after all.


Perhaps Dudu is fond of a bit of a flutter — given the reckless abandon with which she approached the finances of the national carrier and the occasional other public entity. Stranger things have happened.

Perhaps Dudu’s into roulette, and just happened to run into Ace on the way to the ATM and decided to tap him for a loan, given that she has no money for lawyers and all that.


My friend, who’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist as well as a punter, doesn’t think their presence at Sibaya is so innocent. He reckons the two of them are up to no good, plotting politically.

My man is convinced that this is no innocent chicken curry and roti on the way to the King Shaka Airport and a flight back to Jozi; no quick punt and pint on the way to the plane.

Sibaya is owned by another of Zuma’s friends, Vivian Reddy. My buddy is convinced that Ace and Dudu were there for a meeting with Viv, fundraising for their comeback at the next ANC elective conference in 2022;putting together a war chest for the fightback at the national general council meeting next year.


Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Related stories


Subscribers only

ANC’s rotten apples on the chopping block

Now that the NEC has finalised its step-aside guidelines for those facing corruption charges, a swathe of officials will struggle to cling to their positions

Sisulu and Dlodlo punted to be on their way out

Because President Cyril Ramaphosa won the step-aside order in the ANC’s national executive committee, a cabinet reshuffle looms, with Sisulu and Dlodlo’s names on comrades’ lips

More top stories

Analysts expecting another attack ‘in the next few months’ in...

The extremist insurgency in Mozambique has been an ongoing threat since 2017. SADC needs to act now, say analysts

SIU probes how master of the high court fleeces the...

While the SIU delves into dozens of allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct against officials at the master of the high court, many families have been left destitute after the death of their loved ones.

Husband’s death ‘a war crime, it must be investigated’

Three legal complaints have been submitted to the UN to investigate the photojournalist’s killing and recover his remains

Debt crisis may be good for Africa

The IMF and World Bank should use the crisis to divert cash to Global South countries to ease the effects of climate change

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…