Zuma’s son: ‘I am my own man’

2010-09-12 09:12

Mounting public pressure has forced President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane to part with 70% of his share in the R9.08 billion ArcelorMittal SA black economic empowerment deal.

In an interview with City Press at his Sandton office this week, Duduzane, who insisted that it was his “democratic right as a South African to be in business”, said the 70% would be split equally among poor black students, ­orphans, women in rural communities, Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans and ­family members of police officers who died while on duty since April 27 1994.

The money will be distributed through a broad-based share scheme called the Mabengela Empowerment Trust in the next few months Duduzane, the founder of Mabengela Investments, got R1 billion of the total share through the company.

“I have decided to forgo 70% of my proposed allocation in the deal and spread it among other South Africans who are needy and disadvantaged like I once was,” he said, adding the Gupta family, which is also part of the Ayigobi consortium involved in the deal, would also give away a similar percentage.

The announcement comes just days after the deal – and the president – had been labelled as a scheme to make those who have access to power rich.

The ANC Youth League, Cosatu and some of its affiliates blasted ArcelorMittal, saying the company was “prepared to pay billions to get access to their mineral rights and apparently the necessary political influence”.

The deal included the buy-back for R800 million of iron-ore mineral rights previously allocated to Imperial Crown Trading.

“I wish to state very clearly it is my democratic right as a South African to be in business. The same right also goes to any children or family members of people who hold high office in government or even business,” he said.

Duduzane insisted that his decision about the 70% was not influenced by pressure from the deal’s critics.
“In business, pressure is in making money, it is not in giving money away,” he said.

“I am a businessman in my own right and not because my father is president. I have succeeded in spite of the persecution that my ­father endured.”

However, he admitted that the deal was initially not broad-based and he decided to make it so purely from a “business and emotional” point of view.

“The broad-based element of it is something close to my heart. I have come from a poor enough background.

I am not saying from the poorest of the poor. I may be a few levels above the poorest of the poor but I have seen some very hard times,” he said.

“There was a time when it was not cool to carry the Zuma surname,” he said, adding that there were more deals in the offing.

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association treasurer- general Sparks Motseki confirmed that they had been promised a stake in the deal, and said his organisation welcomed the gesture.

“We’ve got quite a number of projects we are pursuing with these people. We have never been invited in transactions by our own comrades. If they (Zuma and the Guptas) continue to invite us we can’t say no,” said Motseki.

He could not say when his organisation had been approached to become partners in the deal, and denied that the move was meant to ward off possible criticism of the Zuma family at the upcoming national general council of the ANC.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the development had not changed their view of the deal.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said they were still concerned about the lack of transparency in how the deal had been done.

Seshoka said it reinforced perceptions that you had to be politically connected to do business.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said Zuma’s move was a sign that he was sensitive to the feelings of those who had expressed concerns about the deal.

“Cosatu will continue to caution society and leaders .?.?. where a ­perception exists that those who are politically connected will be the only ones who benefit from ­[empowerment] deals.”

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