South Africa

Zooming with Zumas

Parts Two and Three, in which the Zuma Dynasty finds itself a hapless victim of circumstance

Duduzane Zuma and former president Jacob Zuma. (Photos: Gallo Images | Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Quick, get two matchsticks, prop your eyes open and watch Parts Two and Three of Duduzane’s Dubai Lockdown Diary in which the Zuma Dynasty finds itself repeatedly vulnerable to unseen malevolent forces so effective they literally render the family without agency.

Everything in Duduzane’s world happens TO his father and his family. Here the dynasty appears to have been cast adrift in the world, hapless captives to vile manufactured circumstance.

Nothing in this world is as it seems. Everything is shadow play.

In this realm, the Zuma family are preyed on by unseen enemies and traitors. Here, mysterious individuals are so canny that they are able to penetrate the ironclad security cordon that surrounded, at great cost, the then-president of the Republic of South Africa and poison him. TWICE.

The pile of debt that the family finds itself burdened with at present and which has seen the former president of the Republic of South Africa claim that he has had to resort to selling his clothing has all been engineered to bankrupt Msholozi and his dependents.

Duduzane’s project aimed at rehabilitating the reputation of the Zuma family, Zooming with the Zumas, dropped on YouTube on 4 May.

Like a Netflix limited bingeable series, two further episodes speedily followed. The series is billed as a package of “conversations”, but they are more stream-of-consciousness riffs from the windmills of young Dudu’s mind.

Dudu Jr can talk for up to 30 minutes. A babbling brook of a young man standing on the shore of history throwing pebbles that only skim the surface of truth and logic. All this while his father quietly sits on a verandah at Nkandla listening and nodding, sometimes so disturbingly still you begin to think the WiFi has stopped buffering.

At some point, the hearty crow of a cockerel momentarily locates the son/dad patter partially at Nkandla. It would have been providence had it crowed thrice, but this fowl is clearly not in the habit of betrayal, the cockerel knows where his bread is buttered.

At the time of writing the three Zuma Dynasty episodes had collectively received more than 300,000 views.

Part Two loops back to Part One as does Part Three, unspooling the circular nature of the narrative. And so surface key themes, subjects and villains, most unnamed (but you know who you are) while the facts circle the drain of remembrance.

Frank Chikane, DD Mabuza, Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC he leads. An ANC, Zuma states without flinching, in which money came to play a role for the first time during the party’s 2017 elective conference at Nasrec.

“People who agreed to be bought would find it difficult to stick to principle,” Zuma expertly opines about Nasrec.

This was an ANC, said the former president, with “foreign” tendencies which then inexplicably asked him to step down as president of South Africa.

“I kept asking, what have I done?” Zuma Sr reminds Zuma Jr and the rest of us.

While they giggle at each other’s jokes they cannot hide their simmering woundedness. Zuma and Son hold many grudges and are not in the business of forgiveness.

While Zuma Jr discusses NEC meetings as if he is one of the party’s elected top six, Zuma Sr volunteered that nowadays he just sits at these meetings, a quiet, brooding presence, observing everyone, what they say, what they do.

It is money, filthy lucre, that has ruined the ANC, says the former No 1 and now soon to be Accused No 1 in his upcoming corruption trial.

“There are figures, there are accounts,” said Zuma without quoting any of these.

Not a peep from Zuma Jr about the uncovering by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate of rogue Crime Intelligence operative and convicted criminal, Captain “KGB”’ Tshabalala’s R50-million Mangaung vote-buying spree when Zuma secured a victory over then-presidential hopeful Kgalema Motlanthe.

No mention of the letter by former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli in which he reassures Zuma that CI resources will be spent at the ANC’s 2007 elective conference in Polokwane.

This is not a fiction of “captured media”. It is part of testimony under oath to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, an arena, unlike YouTube, where evidence can and will be tested.

That’s why Zuma so loathed appearing before the commission. 

Reverend Frank Chikane, who at first refused to be drawn into Duduzane’s allegations in Part 1 that Chikane had leaked Kate Mantso-Zuma’s suicide note to the media, set the record straight in an interview with the SABC on 9 May 2020.

Duduzane had accused Chikane – while referring to him not by name but merely as “a comrade” – of deliberately removing a suicide note.

Duduzane’s twin sister, Duduzile, as well as Edward Zuma, another of Zuma’s sons, later joined the attack on Chikane, which prompted his decision to speak out.

Chikane recalled the deeply traumatic events on the day of Kate’s death in 2000 when he had arrived at her home in Pretoria after she had called him having swallowed a cocktail of malaria medication and sleeping pills.

Kate Mansto was Zuma’s second wife and they had five children. They married in 1982.

Duduzane too had been summoned to his mother’s house on that day, as had Zuma’s other sons, Edward and Mxolisi.

Kate was still alive when Chikane arrived and she had asked to speak to him privately while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Kate had directed one of her sons, said Chikane, to a drawer which had contained the folded suicide note.

Mantso-Zuma, said Chikane, had instructed him to give the handwritten note to Zuma personally which he later did after her death in hospital.

The note is damning and it is clear Zuma, as the then-deputy president of SA, would not have wanted it to be made public.

Kate had expressly barred Zuma from her funeral and ordered “strictly my dear children, my maternal family to attend. From the Zumas only Bro Mike and all the Mzobe family.”

She begged Zuma to “revisit your obligations” as a father and wished him “luck and success with the new Makoti and would advise her that the seat she is going to occupy is very, very, very Hot.”

Zuma was set soon to marry his third wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli, later accused by Zuma in 2014 of poisoning him, resulting in her immediate banishment to the outer margins of the Zumaverse.

Kate’s letter read, “I hope, if it is true, we will meet again somewhere, But not as husband and wife which I’ll dare not take that chance again due to bitter and most painful (24 years) marriage life I have gone through.”

Because Kate’s death was unnatural it had necessitated a police investigation. Chikane had been obliged by law to hand the note to the police as part of the investigation. It is worth holding in mind the note was only made public in 2007, seven years after her death.

Chikane set out in his interview with the SABC how Kate Mansto, born in Alexandra in September 1956, had been an ANC leader in her own right.

The Mantso family left Soweto in 1974, moving to Mozambique. There Kate obtained a diploma in languages. She had been fluent in almost all of South Africa’s official languages as well as Portuguese, German, French and ki-Swahili.

In 1976, Kate joined Mozambique’s airline Linhas Aéreas De Mozambique (LAM) and began an extensive career in the travel industry which culminated in her appointment as deputy station manager in Harare – a position she held until 1993.

In that role, Mantso had helped smuggle ANC cadres out of South Africa into exile in Mozambique and elsewhere. Her state funeral in 2000 was attended by ANC bigwigs including Nelson Mandela, the then-president, Thabo Mbeki, and his wife Zanele, Winnie Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Tito Mboweni.

Chikane was visibly upset at Duduzane’s reworking of the suicide note narrative and charge that Chikane had “lied”. He said the inquest docket contained the facts, including an affidavit he had deposed at the time.

In the series, Duduzane and Jacob Zuma return with regular monotony (that is why you need the matchsticks) to key themes that have run through the conversations; Zuma’s poisoning and how DD Mabuza, also poisoned, owed his life to the family who had flown him to Moscow for treatment in 2015.

There is more also about the ANC which father and son both agreed had lost its “ideological path” in service to money.

The background to the poisoning of both Zuma and Mabuza warrants a revisit for an attempt to contextualise events.

In June 2014, Zuma was hospitalised in South Africa for suspected poisoning. The woman accused of doing so, Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma, had already been asked to evacuate the president’s home at Nkandla in January that year.

It had been the then-minister of state security, David Mahlobo, who had arrived at Nkandla with a piece of paper and who had whispered into Msholozi’s ear before Ntuli-Zuma was summarily ejected from the complex with her three children by Zuma.

The NPA has subsequently told Zuma’s attorneys that an investigation found nada evidence that Ntuli-Zuma had poisoned him. Neither Zuma nor the SSA bothered to file affidavits in the matter. It speaks volumes.

In August 2014, a visibly ill and gaunt Zuma met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and in September 2014, a secret intergovernmental R1-trillion nuclear agreement was signed off with Rosatom in Vienna by the then-minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

In October 2018, former Minister of Finance Nhlanla Nene testified to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry that in 2015, at the annual summit of heads of state or governments of BRICS member states, he had discussed the nuclear agreement with his Russian counterparts.

Nene told the commission that the Russian minister of finance, Anton Siluanov, as well as his deputy, Sergei Shatalov, had told him they had been unaware of any apparent “nuclear deal” between the two countries.

The two Russian ministers had also admitted they had “no real idea of what it was about and were not involved in discussions”.

This was a revelation, said Nene, that had surprised him, “because, if I were to sign anything that had financial commitments from the Russian government, I would have expected my counterparts to not only be aware but to play a role”.

You would think.

In July 2015, Nene and other Cabinet ministers, including Joemat-Pettersson, attended a briefing with Zuma. Nene had, he said, intended to brief Zuma on the summit “and his forthcoming one-on-one meeting with President Putin of Russia” but instead, Zuma had criticised him for not finalising the financial aspects of the proposed nuclear deal.

Zuma had told Nene that he had not been “happy that I was not doing what I was supposed to have done a long time ago so that he could have something to present when he meets President Putin for their one-on-one meeting”.

It was Joemat-Pettersson, who had then drafted a “mere one-page” letter ready for Nene’s consideration and signature.

“It was a letter addressed to Russian authorities. I cannot remember the exact detail of this letter, but I recall that it was essentially providing a form of guarantee to the Russian government on the nuclear programme if the Russian government were to finance it.”

A Western Cape High Court later ruled that the state’s nuclear procurement deal had been illegal and unconstitutional and set it aside. In 2018 it was Cyril Ramaphosa who appointed DD Mabuza as a special envoy dispatched to break the news to Vladimir Putin.

Zuma Jr occasionally strays from the key pivots to offer a variety of opinions on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the NCC’s Covid-19 economic package and the government’s general response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was, said Zuma Jr, a “bit copy and paste”.

There is no indication that the Zooming with Zuma series is a finite project, but expect the season to continue up until when Zuma will have to get up from his chair at Nkandla and be driven to the Pietermaritzburg High Court to take his place with Thales in the dock. In his mind, no doubt, still a victim of terrible circumstance. DM

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