President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward on Friday heckled former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. On Monday it was Duduzane Zuma’s turn. The Gupta family’s favourite empowerment partner looks desperate. By GREG NICOLSON
In the open letter to Gordhan, President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, who shares businesses interests with the Gupta family, accused the former finance minister of avoiding responsibility for the country’s failed economy and trying to destroy his businesses. He also claimed Gordhan is “in bed” with the finance industry.
“All of my bank accounts have been closed by your ‘friends’ in the banking industry. Likely with your support. Anybody can see that you are in bed with them, rather than on the side of hard-working South African citizens,” reads the letter, repeating rumours that Gordhan has failed to disclose shares in the financial services industry.
The younger Zuma lists “some key facts” he claims are being ignored. He says the Competition Commission lays charges against businesses but nothing happens to them, such as the banks accused of fixing the exchange price of the rand. British American Tobacco were part of a spying scandal on South Africans. African Bank shareholders were bailed out of bankruptcy by government. The Integrated Financial Management System “scandal” within Treasury occurred while Gordhan was minister and Gordhan’s former chief procurement officer was given a job at Standard Bank.
“Why are their bank accounts still open? Why are you not calling for inquiries and prosecutions? Yet you ignore all of this and persecute me and my business partners,” writes Zuma. He says there were no conclusive findings in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report; he and the Gupta family were cleared by the Hawks and whistleblowers who were invited to report to the ANC came up with nothing against him.
His “facts” could be straight out of an ANN7 panel discussion. He accused Gordhan of wasting taxpayers’ money in the former minister’s failed court attempt to get a declaratory order that a minister couldn’t intervene in the banks’ relationships with clients
“And still you say we are corrupt – and others are clean,” he tells Gordhan. “You are a conspiracy theorist who failed as a minister of this great country. You grandstand in Parliament and embarrass this country. Do you not think that the people of this country can see what you are doing?”
Duduzane Zuma is a key member of the Gupta cabal. He has acted as an empowerment partner on the family’s business deals and President Zuma has said the family helped his son when he couldn’t get work. It’s been reported that he has holds residency in the Gupta family’s second home, the United Arab Emirates, and has been well-taken care of by the family, jetting first class around the world and earning up to R300,000 a month in director fees, more even than the Gupta brothers.
Duduzane Zuma has also allegedly acted as a key intermediary between his father and politicians whom the family have tried to influence. When he crashed his Porsche in 2014, killing one person, the first person he called was Tony Gupta.
Zuma’s letter was sent to the media from [email protected], the same account that the #GuptaLeaks showed the family’s lieutenants had access to. Although the young Zuma’s name is generally spelt “Duduzane”, the account has been used in his dealings with the Guptas. According to a Tweet from eNCA journalist Karyn Maughan, Duduzane confirmed on Monday he sent the letter. Gordhan was not immediately available for comment on Monday. In 2015, Duduzane penned a letter in the Sunday Times that was later revealed to have been written by Gupta associates.
“Also, you never, ever, want to acknowledge this, but the Gupta family and I have consistently welcomed a judicial commission of inquiry into all state capture,” says Zuma’s latest letter (note the use of “all state capture,” rather than allegations against the Guptas and himself).
“I, and the Gupta family, pledged 15 months ago to exit our South African investments to make sure the jobs of our fellow South Africans are protected. It has taken a while, but we have done it. You criticise this sale, as you don’t care about jobs for ordinary people, and if it doesn’t fit you and your political agenda,” he said on the family’s recent sale of ANN7, The New Age and Tegeta.
The open letter looks like the Guptas and their associates are desperately trying to change the narrative that has seen them increasingly side-lined both in public and also within the ruling party as reams of corruption allegations continue to emerge. Law enforcement agencies have been extremely slow to react to allegations against the Guptas but pressure is building in Parliament to take urgent action. It’s suspected that by selling some of their key assets, the family is trying to get around the fact that they don’t have an institution to bank with after the major banks have closed their accounts.
Gordhan has been one of the Gupta family and their associates’ strongest critics. It’s widely believed Zuma removed Gordhan and his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas because they stood up against the Gupta family’s attempts to loot the state. Both Jonas and Gordhan have continued to speak out against corruption since their removal.
The president’s family appear to be in on the damage control attempt. On Friday, President Zuma’s son Edward was caught on video gesturing at Gordhan and trying to heckle him at a public event in Pietermaritzburg, calling him a liar who “sold the country to white men in Stellenbosch.” The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal condemned his actions.
In July, Edward wrote an open letter to Gordhan and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom. Both were replaced by the president in the March Cabinet reshuffle. “By being the extension of whites and white monopoly capital stooge‚ Gordhan shows us of his inferiority complex to whites but superior complex to natives‚ that whites according to him and his inner world – deserve to be accorded a perpetual status as masters‚ and an African native is unimaginative to be of higher status than any race in this country”, wrote Edward Zuma.
Wits School of Governance Professor Susan Booysen said Duduzane’s letter looked like a desperate attempt to reinterpret issues to make himself and the Guptas appear to be much more important than they are. She said it looked like “a big time” effort from some of the president’s family members to fight back against the claims against them. About Duduzane, she said: “There’s a young man who certainly seems to see himself as the centre of the universe.”
“Wasting taxpayers’ money?” asked Booysen on the claims against Gordhan. “How much taxpayers’ money has his father wasted?”
President Zuma’s spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on Monday. DM
Photo: Duduzane Zuma has penned an open letter to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: Nic Bothma (EPA)