#GuptaEmails: Duduzane emerges as middleman for Zuma with foreign business

02 June 2017 - 08:26 By GENEVIEVE QUINTAL

The first evidence has emerged of Duduzane Zuma's role as a middleman in his father's dealings with foreign business entities.

Duduzane Zuma. File Photo.
Duduzane Zuma. File Photo.
Image: KATHERINE MUICK-MERE

Leaked e-mails show that he brokered a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and a private Russian investment company.

According to the e-mails, Russian investment company Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation contacted Duduzane on December 23 2014 asking for assistance in setting up a meeting between company chairman Vladimir Evtushenkov and the president in Davos, Switzerland.

It said Evtushenkov would be in Davos on January 21 and 22, when the World Economic Forum annual meeting took place. Zuma was also expected to be in Davos at the time.

There has long been speculation about Duduzane's role in providing access to Zuma and his influence over his father's decision-making.

Constitutional experts say there is nothing wrong with the president meeting representatives of businesses but if Duduzane were benefiting from facilitating the meetings that could constitute conflict of interest.

Duduzane did not respond to phone calls and an SMS asking comment. The Presidency had not responded to requests for comment by late yesterday.

Our political writer Genevieve Quintal discusses the first evidence that may prove Duduzane Zuma is his father's gatekeeper for business interests. Produced by Abigail Javier Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

According to the e-mails, Duduzane responded to Sistema on January 1, telling the company's MD, Evgeniy Chuikov, that he was in India and would next be in the US but as soon as he was back in South Africa he would "follow up with the matter in discussion".

On January 27 2015, Chuikov sent Duduzane another e-mail thanking him for setting up the meeting with Zuma for Evtushenkov.

"We met in Davos and had a very productive and warm catch-up," he wrote.

Chuikov proceeds to give Duduzane a rundown of what was discussed by the two in Davos, which included the possibility of Sistema investing in South Africa, particularly in healthcare and "smart city" technology.

He said Zuma expressed his support for Sistema's efforts and mentioned that both areas of focus "may be of interest to South Africa".

"On smart city, President Zuma suggested we approach large municipalities in South Africa, such as Pretoria, and possibly South Africa's security ministry/services which these technologies are closely linked to," Chuikov told Duduzane.

"On healthcare, we discussed opportunities to partner with local South African healthcare operators both in SA and in Russia."

 

He said Zuma supported the idea on healthcare and suggested introductions to South African healthcare providers.

It is not clear if Sistema has any investment interests in South Africa. The company did not respond to e-mailed questions.

The executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, Lawson Naidoo, said that if Duduzane was benefiting from setting up meetings with his father he would be in contravention of section 96 (2) of the constitution.

The section states that no member of the cabinet or deputy minister may act in any way which is inconsistent with his office or expose himself to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between his official responsibilities and private interests.

"Some of it could be legitimate because lots of companies and businesses legitimately go and speak to the president and often those meetings are set up by middlemen," Naidoo said.

"But if there is a situation in which the president's son stands to benefit as a result of those initiatives then that would constitute a conflict of interest."

According to the e-mail, during their meeting Zuma and Evtushenkov agreed that Sistema would plan a visit to South Africa in March 2015.

"He [Zuma] suggested I keep in touch with you to develop the above ideas and agenda in more detail ahead of our possible visit," Chuikov wrote to Duduzane.

The next correspondence between the two is in June 2015, when Chuikov tells Duduzane that Sistema representatives would be travelling to South Africa and suggests that they meet.

In November that year Duduzane and Rajesh "Tony" Gupta flew to Moscow. It is not known why.

This was not the first time Duduzane had been to Russia.

In an e-mail dated August 22 2014, the Deputy Director: Assistant Private Secretary in the Private Office of the President, sent Duduzane a copy of his visa for Russia and proof of payment. - TMG Digital/BusinessLive

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