Anything for daddy’s little girl

2014-08-04 06:45

Once upon a time in three lands not very far from each other, there lived three very lucky daughters. They were lucky because they had powerful dads who did wonderful things for them.

The luckiest of them was Isabel dos Santos, whose father was Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos. The father, a liberation struggle hero, was president for a very long time.

During this time, the family amassed wealth. Much of it was in the hands of the father and the daughter.

Worth $3.7?billion (R39.5?billion), Forbes has for years rated Isabel as the richest woman in Africa. All this at the age of just 41. She is also very beautiful, but unfortunately she married some Congolese dude a few years ago.

She is involved in banking, oil, telecoms and anything you can think of that makes money. If there is a big deal on the go in Angola, you can be assured that in addition to Antonio, Manuel, Carlos and Maria being in on it, the name Isabel will also feature.

Another lucky daughter was Valentina Guebuza, the spawn of Mozambique’s head of state, Armando Guebuza. The 33-year-old Valentina heads Focus 21, a family empire spanning the entire Mozambican economy – construction, transport, mining, telecoms and agriculture, among other things.

Her latest coup was the curious selection of her company to manage Mozambique’s digital migration progress.

The story goes that a few years ago, the far-sighted Valentina set up a company called StarTimes Mozambique with the aim of getting involved in a digital migration project.

StarTimes Mozambique then linked up with a Chinese company that was coincidentally called StarTimes.

Then one day, without any warning, Mozambicans woke up to hear that the StarTimes/StarTimes consortium had scored a deal to manage Mozambique’s digital migration.

There was no tender process for this $100?million contract, something the government justified with the argument that the Chinese StarTimes was already managing digital migration in about 20 African countries. It made sense, therefore, that Mozambique followed suit.

During Guebuza’s presidency, Mozambicans have watched as projects in sectors in which Focus 21 is involved were prioritised and little Valentina’s personal kitty has grown and grown.

It stands to reason then that when daddy steps down in October, he will be well looked after by his entrepreneurial daughter.

Valentina is also very good looking, but she got married a few weeks ago.

Another lucky daughter is Thuthukile Zuma, one of the 3 trillion children fathered by South Africa’s president. Thuthukile, as a Zuma child, has done well since her daddy assumed office in 2009.

While Duduzile, Duduzane and Edward – the most famous of the countless children – have done well by hooking up with businessmen who wanted to suck up to Zuma, Thuthukile has risen through the ranks in the public service sector.

Last week, the Mail & Guardian revealed that she had secured a R1?million-a-year post as Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s chief of staff. Not bad for a 25-year-old with just two years of working experience behind her.

Since the story broke, government officials and Thuthukile sympathisers have defended her career acceleration, saying that because this post is a political appointment, it requires an individual that the minister trusts absolutely.

They said a molehill was being given the status of a mountain as Cwele had broken no rules in appointing this toddler to the crucial post.

Others have simply asked what the big deal is if the president’s flock benefits a little while the head of the family is in the pound seats. So they shrug as the Zuma family’s business empire grows and grows.

Well, this is a big deal if it follows the trend of kleptomaniacal and narcissistic leaders who prioritise their families while in power. There have been many such leaders in the modern era – from Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos to Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych.

Sycophants admired the leaders’ greedy feeding at the trough. Sometimes they even aided the feeding by chopping the food into chewable pieces and holding the leaders’ mouths open so that the leaders didn’t have to strain their facial muscles too much.

Cwele has proven himself to be one such sycophant. In the past five years, he has done everything to prove to the father of 3 trillion children that he has his back.

Much of his tenure at the state security department was taken up by protecting the boss and knifing his adversaries. His latest move is further cementing his loyalty.

It is very clear that Zuma is following the Dos Santos and Guebuza model of governance, which emphasises maximum eating while in office.

In the years that are left of Zuma’s presidency, expect more stories of the elevation of members of his family to high positions in business and society, a more rapid growth of the family empire and a further expansion of Khulubuse’s waistline.

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