Jacob Zuma's family empire

2014-07-27 15:00

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Besides a lucrative government job, members of President Jacob Zuma’s family have also scored contracts in the oil, gold, cigarette, diamond, airline and retail industries in the five years since he first took office.

The appointment of Zuma’s 25-year-old daughter Thuthukile to the almost R1 million-a-year position of chief of staff in Post and Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s office, reported by the Mail & Guardian on Friday, has caused an outcry.

But she is not the first family member to raise eyebrows.

Some of those with whom others have done – or attempted to do – business include a convicted killer and a Lithuanian billionaire with links to organised crime.

Other relatives have set up a number of charities which give little indication of how they spend their money and donations.

According to intensive research, it’s an empire which shows how the family’s business interests have ballooned since 2009.

The main man

President Zuma is the founder and patron of the Jacob Zuma Foundation and the Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust. He is also the chair of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative.

Masibambisane became steeped in controversy after the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries allocated R800?million in aid but then withdrew from the project.

Zuma’s cousin, Sibusiso “Deebo” Mzobe, is its deputy chairperson.

Zuma’s foundations and trusts have enjoyed the support of some of the country’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, including Patrice Motsepe, who in 2010 announced a R10?million donation over five years.

EduSolutions, the company at the centre of the 2012 Limpopo textbook scandal, also funded the trust and its CEO accompanied Zuma on a trip to the US.

According to its website, the foundation “prides itself on its ethics, integrity and credibility”, and is involved in housing, education and sports development.

The whole family

Sandton-based multinational, the Isthebe group of companies, describes itself as a “diversified family founded enterprise focusing on investments and operations”.

Five Zumas – Michael, Edward, Sikhumbuzo, Mxolosi and Priscilla – sit on its board or serve in executive positions. The company says it is “seeking and pursuing value enhancing and BEE deals” in areas including energy, oil, exploration, mining, agriculture, IT and engineering.

Edward Zuma

The president’s eldest son is responsible for “new business development” at Isthebe. According to the company’s website, he studied law after which he joined several law firms as a trainee. But he never completed his studies.

Edward joined a range of companies after his father became president and was at one stage involved in 34. He is now director of 10 active companies.

Edward came under fire for his business relations with alleged organised crime figures involved in the illegal cigarette trade. A host of cigarette bosses are under investigation by a special SA Revenue Service (Sars) unit for tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.

In February, City Press linked Edward to controversial cigarette manufacturer Yusuf Kajee, the CEO of Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing (ATM), who is being investigated by both Sars and the Hawks for widespread tax evasion, fraud and smuggling.

Edward was a director of ATM until 2011. Kajee and Edward remain business partners as directors of aspiring local low-cost airline Fastjet Holdings. Sars is also investigating another Fastjet director, Paul de Robillard, who has been implicated in fraud allegations and a murder plot.

Fastjet’s head office did not respond to questions about Edward’s director’s fee. The company’s UK directors earn between R600?000 and R930?000 a year, excluding meeting fees and share options.

Duduzane Zuma

He’s been involved in 21 companies, 12 of which are still active. When his father became ANC president in December 2007, Duduzane joined Mabengela Investments, Westdawn Investments and Gemini Moon Trading 254.

And when Zuma ascended to the country’s presidency, Duduzane became a director of several more.

Company searches reveal how much the Zuma clan has benefited from their relationship with the controversial Gupta family. Duduzane is on the board of JIC Mining Services alongside Rajesh Gupta.

JIC is owned by Oakbay Investments, another Gupta company. He is also on the board of other Gupta-owned firms including Sahara Holdings and Shiva Uranium.

Mining insiders say Duduzane’s executive directorship of Shiva Uranium could earn him as much as R3?million a year.

He is also a nonexecutive director of Westdawn Investments, which owns JIC Mining Services – a job that a senior mining analyst, who asked not to be named, said could net him R1?million a year.

A former ANN7 employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Duduzane owns 30% of the company that runs the news channel. Last year, newspaper reports linked

Duduzane and the Gupta family to an illegal mining operation in Mpumalanga.

Duduzane was also involved in one of South Africa’s most high stakes corporate scandals – the Sishen saga for control of one of the country’s most valuable mineral deposits in the Northern Cape.

The scandal involved allegations of fraud, Hawks raids on government offices and bitter wrangling between the mineral resources department, Imperial Crown Trading, Sishen Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal SA.

Duduzile Zuma

Duduzile Zuma was involved in 13 companies but resigned from five, including the board of the Guptas’ Sahara

Computers. She sits on the board of Duzi Investment Holdings, which claims to have investments in Zambia’s financial sector, Angolan housing projects, and infrastructure development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Neither Duduzile nor Duduzane responded to requests for comment.

Other kids

Gugulethu Zuma, the daughter of AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, joined Nyenyedzi Productions and Vukani Africa Events and Training, among other companies.

Gugulethu was cast in the popular television series Isidingo in 2009 and It’s For Life on DStv’s Mzansi Magic in 2011.

Nokuthula Zuma also starred in the sitcom produced by Nyenyedzi Productions, which they established with sister Thuthukile after their father became president.

The presidential Twitter account came under fire when it was used to promote the show. Nokuthula and Thuthukile are both involved with Born Free Investments 660.

Brother Michael

The president’s younger brother, Michael Zuma, was involved in 27 companies, resigned from two, and is now the director of 15 active firms. Michael admitted last November he had used the Zuma name to secure government contracts for a company to build RDP houses.

He is still listed as an active director in the Midway Two group, a large services company under investigation by the Special Investigating Unit in connection with a R1?billion police tender and other alleged tender irregularities.

Midway Two director Danny Naicker said Zuma was no longer involved and had resigned his directorship, although he still had to sign the documents to confirm this. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Wives

Zuma’s second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, controls an array of business interests and is a director of seven companies. She founded the MaNtuli Zuma J Foundation to “assist new and already existing nonprofit and nongovernmental organisations”.

Tobeka Madiba-Zuma has varied business interests and a foundation that bears her name. She bought a large home in Durban in 2011 in the name of the Madiba Family Trust and commissioned renovations of almost R9?million.

Bongekile Ngema-Zuma controls the Sinqumo Trust, used in 2011 to buy a house for more than R5?million in exclusive Waterkloof, Pretoria. Ngema-Zuma is the founder of the diabetes charity, the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation.

Nephew

City Press reported in May that Khulubuse Zuma was sitting on a R100?billion oil fortune in the DRC after that country’s president Joseph Kabila gave him two oil concessions.

In recent years, Khulubuse became involved in 32 registered local companies and remains actively involved in seven.

Khulubuse and his uncle’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, are directors of seven companies, six of which are dormant, among them Aurora Empowerment Systems and Labat Africa, which they formed to try and raise capital for Aurora.

Aurora owned two mines that were stripped while their workers went unpaid.

A convicted murderer appeared as the alleged middleman in deals Khulubuse tried to broker to rescue Aurora. Robert Huang was convicted and sentenced in 1998, but served no time. Sars and the Hawks are investigating Huang for alleged complicity in fraud and tax evasion in a multibillion-rand racket at the Durban Harbour.

Another Khulubuse business associate was Lithuanian-born “billionaire” Boris Birshtein, a businessman and gold trader whose CV boasts three bogus doctorates. Birshtein is the principal shareholder and chairperson of investment firm Royal HTM, which he claimed was registered in Canada but is actually registered in South Africa. Khulubuse Zuma has been a director since 2009.

The New York Times linked Birshtein to Russian organised crime figures. He was also accused of ferrying gold in his private jet from Kyrgyzstan to a Swiss bank.

Khulubuse’s media adviser, Vuyo Mkhize, said his client “doesn’t possess the capacity to conduct background checks on everyone he goes into business with”.

Mkhize said Royal HTM never traded and is being deregistered. “There is hardly a country on the continent that he has not been frequenting, scouring for business opportunities,” Mkhize said.

“As a private citizen?...?he has no duty to publicly disclose details of his business dealings.”

Jacob Zuma’s family money tree

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