South Africa

Op-Ed: Dear President Zuma, let’s talk about Duduzane

By Mmusi Maimane 29 June 2017

You misled Parliament, again, Mr President. I therefore urge you to appoint the independent Commission of Inquiry that the former Public Protector stipulated, without any further delay. By MMUSI MAIMANE.

When you appeared in Parliament last Thursday I asked about nepotism in your government. Specifically, I asked whether you would concede that your Presidency has financially benefited your son, Duduzane, through his compromising relationship with the Gupta family.

After all, the evidence in support of such a claim is compelling and overwhelming.

But in Parliament you flatly denied this – painting Duduzane as a victim – and claiming that he should be entitled to go into business like anyone else.

You said, on record, that you have never assisted Duduzane on “any issue”; that he is “involved in business on his own accord”; and that “whoever he does business with, is his own business”. Specifically, you said;

I have never heard that Duduzane’s business has benefited from the government, where I have influenced by saying give him something. I have never done that. He is involved in business on his own accord.”

Because he is the President’s son, there is no law that says he can’t get involved in business.”

Mr President, this is patently false. You have misled Parliament, again.

The truth is that Duduzane has, for the past decade, been in business with the very family that has captured your Presidency, and captured the State. Your son has used your name to make himself and the Guptas very wealthy. And Mr President, this was by no coincidence.

It all started after you were elected as ANC President in 2007.

Duduzane was quickly elevated and made director in a number of Gupta-controlled companies, having been offered lucrative shares in some of these companies for give-away prices.

For example, Duduzane was appointed as a director of Mabengela Investments, the Gupta-controlled company which would be used as the central force behind several collusive business deals between the government and the Guptas. In each of these Duduzane was enriched without any clear evidence of him adding any particular value to the deal, besides the use of your name. Each time the Guptas secured a government contract, Duduzane benefited financially.

Duduzane paid a mere R25 for his initial 25% stake in Mabengela Investments. Then, immediately after you become South African President, Duduzane was given a further 20% stake in Mabengela. His now 45% stake – which was virtually handed to him – is said to be worth hundreds of millions of rand.

Thereafter, through Mabengela and another Gupta-controlled company, Islandsite Investments, the profit-making activity began. These companies steadily accrued shares in several Gupta-controlled companies, including Shiva Uranium, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, Infinity Media Networks, and JIC Mining. It is public knowledge that these companies have collectively made billions of rand in dealings with the State, particularity State-Owned Entities such as Eskom, Transnet and Prasa.

The most telling example of this is how the Guptas and your son purchased a substantial stake in Tegeta Exploration and Resources just three weeks before Tegeta announced that they had signed a deal to buy Glencore’s Optimum coal assets for R2.15-billion. This resulted in the Guptas and Duduzane now supplying Eskom with coal.

The amount of “help” Duduzane received from you in this matter is painstakingly clear. Besides the fact that both the Guptas and Duduzane had prior knowledge of this sale through Gupta-aligned directors and Board members at Eskom, you appointed Mosebenzi Zwane as Mining Minister in September 2015, after the then minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi tried stopping the Guptas and Duduzane buying the Optimum coal mine.

Your “help” for Duduzane is evident from the beginning of your Presidency, where you instructed the then Deputy Director-General of Minerals and Energy, Jacinto Rocha, to help Duduzane out. Specifically; you are quoted as saying, “Duduzane is my only child involved with money. I will appreciate it if you would help him wherever you could.” At the time‚ the Guptas and Duduzane were looking to explore business opportunities in the mining sector.

You, as President, have ensured that Duduzane has the power and the political sway to unfairly benefit himself, the Guptas, and you. Like in December 2015, when Mr Richard Seleke was appointed as the Director-General of Public Enterprises, after emailing his CV directly to Duduzane.

Mr President, Duduzane is not just “helped out” by you. It is your friends the Guptas who also invest substantially in Duduzane’s personal life.

Over the past years, the Guptas have assisted your son with buying an R18-million apartment at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

They ensured that he received legal assistance from their family lawyer in settling a R3.5-million maintenance agreement with the mother of his child.

They provided legal assistance after Duduzane negligently killed a taxi passenger following a vehicle collision.

They even financially contributed to his wedding. Leaked emails show that in the lead-up to Duduzane’s wedding in 2015, Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla and Oakbay Financial Director Ronica Ragavan handled most of the preparations, with the Guptas’ attorneys handling the contracts and payments.

Mr President, the evidence is overwhelming, and cannot be explained away.

While you continue to mislead the country, the facts show how far the rot of state capture has seeped into our government, and into the ANC. What is clear is that only those who are connected within the ANC and in government benefit, while the majority are left without work and without opportunity.

You misled Parliament, again, Mr President. It is becoming a habit. You will forgive me if your denials and anger at my question ring hollow in the face of the evidence. I therefore urge you to appoint the independent Commission of Inquiry that the former Public Protector stipulated, without any further delay. And that you commit publicly to ensuring that your son’s relationship with the Gupta family forms part of the terms of reference in that inquiry. As the Deputy President is quoted as having said to you, “you have to do this thing right”.

Yours,

Mmusi Maimane DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma (GCIS), DA leader Mmusi Maimane (REUTERS/Mike Hutchings)

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