Is the son the father?

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 Duduzane Zuma
Duduzane Zuma

Cherubic Duduzane Zuma has had a ­stellar career since his dad ascended to office in 2009. On Sunday last week, President Jacob Zuma told a tripartite alliance meeting that his son had been rescued by the Gupta family when the young Zuma heir could not find a job because of his family name, according to the Sowetan.

The alliance is a political governing pact among the ANC, the SA Communist Party (SACP) and labour fede­ration Cosatu.

Not only is Duduzane now employed, he is thriving. My colleague Susan Comrie reported: “The younger Zuma is a beneficiary of each of the Guptas’ major­ ­contracts with the state, and a co-director with various members of the Gupta family in nine different ­companies.”

The 33-year-old, who – with twin sister Duduzile – is part of the first generation of Zuma children, is a paper millionaire a few times over thanks to his interests in, among other things, media and mining.

His holdings are in Mabengela, the company he runs with Rajesh “Tony” Gupta. Mabengela is named after a mountain alongside Nkandla.

Is his fortune at all tied to his dad? Not at all, said ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe after the ANC top six held a meeting with the family a few weeks ago to try to snuff out tensions that had arisen from a view in the party and its allied communist arm that the state was being captured by the Gupta family and other interests. State capture refers to the process by which private interests rather than the public good ­dictate political policy and practice.

Mantashe, who is also a central committee member of the SACP, said: “Where should Duduzane be? He can’t do business in heaven. I do not subscribe to the notion that politicians’ families are just their extension and that the families and relatives do not have a life of their own … that is a sick narrative that is going to destroy people.”

That view is now likely to change. Business Day ­reported on Friday that the SACP was likely to raise a debate about the role of family members of ­politicians in business at this weekend’s watershed meeting of the governing party’s high command in its national executive committee.

The reason for the SACP’s change of heart on the involvement of political families in business?

It’s not simple to divorce the political influence that the offspring or spouses of political leaders wield over the various lucrative goods and services over which the state holds sway – these can be tenders, licences and access. In other words, the son is the father.

Duduzane Zuma was the emissary of the Guptas in the approach to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi ­Jonas, as confirmed by the latter.

Though Duduzane has often denied this, there is ­additional corroborative information in the public ­domain to show that the president’s son is involved in South African politics and that he may even be his father’s proxy.

In addition, Business Day editor in chief Peter Bruce reported in his column last week that “on the day he was removed as mineral resources minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi was called to the president’s office”.

Bruce continued: “The story friends tell is that [Ramatlhodi] had waited outside for more than 30 minutes, when the door opened and out walked Duduzane Zuma and [the man about to replace Ramatlhodi, Mosebenzi] Zwane. He went inside and the president informed him he was being moved to a new ministry with immediate effect”.

Bruce this week wrote that the fortunes of the Zuma and Gupta families are now conjoined by virtue of Duduzane’s ­ownership of various mines, several of which rely on state contracts to pay off debt. There literally is a Zupta Inc – Zupta being the term used by the Economic Freedom Fighters to ­describe the ­relationship between President Zuma and the Gupta family.

In March 2011, five years ago, my colleagues and I went to interview the Gupta family and Duduzane about the first corporate controversy affecting the ­family, which involved the right to mine at Sishen. ­Duduzane said then: “If it wasn’t for the ­Guptas, I would’ve gone the tenderpreneur route. 100%. What other ­options do I have? Then there would have been plundering,” said the impeccably polite young man with more than a little exasperation.

Perhaps he should have struck out on his own instead, for now he is implicated in what opponents of the family he is so closely associated with consider state capture – an easy synonym for which is plunder.

Who is Duduzane Zuma?

At 33 years old, Duduzane Zuma is one of South Africa’s It Generation – young people who are at the pinnacle of wealth and not afraid to flaunt it. Yet, he is also down to earth and was, until recently, quite approachable. His Twitter feed suggests he is spectacularly wealthy and enjoys shopping.

Until his recent wedding to Shanice Stork, Zuma junior was one of South Africa’s most eligible bachelors. Stork is a girl next door from Newlands in Durban.

He is a twin to sister Duduzile Zuma, who also presides over a significant business empire.

With three other siblings, they are the children of President Zuma’s late wife Kate Mantsho, who died in 2000.

In 2014, Duduzane was involved in an accident in which a taxi passenger died after a collision between the taxi and his Porsche Cayenne in Johannesburg. The magistrate found him guilty of negligence.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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