Duduzane Zuma 'is feeling the heat'

President's son's rant against Pravin Gordhan said to be a diversion

29 August 2017 - 05:23 By ERNEST MABUZA, GENEVIEVE QUINTAL, NATASHA MARRIAN, PENWELL DLAMINI and Graeme Hosken
'HONEST ENTREPRENEUR' Duduzane Zuma, son of President Jacob Zuma Picture: Alon Skuy
'HONEST ENTREPRENEUR' Duduzane Zuma, son of President Jacob Zuma Picture: Alon Skuy

President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, a business partner and friend of the Guptas, has launched a stinging attack on former finance minister Pravin Gordhan in what observers say is a sign of desperation as pressure mounts over state capture revelations.

In an open letter on Monday, Duduzane said he was selling all his shares in all Gupta-linked companies. He revealed that "all" his bank accounts had been closed due to his association with the controversial family.

He said he would focus on "clearing my name".

He has been deeply immersed in the Gupta family and their businesses, leaked Gupta e-mails show. They tell of the family helping him to buy an expensive home in Dubai, to organise and pay for his wedding and to clean up messes in his personal life.

Duduzane accused Gordhan of using state bodies such as the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Reserve Bank to try to destroy him and his business colleagues.

"All my bank accounts have been closed by your 'friends' in the banking industry. Likely with your support," he wrote.

He threatened to sue Gordhan.

The letter was made public within days of President Zuma's elder son, Edward, disrupting an event at which Gordhan spoke, and less than a week after the Guptas embarked on a series of disinvestments in their businesses ahead of the expected closure of their last remaining business banking accounts by the Bank of Baroda by the end of August.

Wayne Duvenage, CEO of Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, which has laid a number of criminal charges against key actors in the state capture allegations, said: "This is a smokescreen. [Duduzane] Zuma is trying to deflect things away from him. We are convinced this is part of a larger fightback strategy.

"It's clear that the Guptas and their associates are in a panic. They have been hurt and are under mounting pressure, especially with the Bank of Baroda set to close their accounts."

Last week the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments announced it had sold its media assets, Infinity Media and The New Age, and its mining asset, Tegeta. Duduzane Zuma has shares in these companies.

In his open letter Duduzane did not disclose what shares he would sell. He was a director of 21 companies but has resigned from the boards of most of them in the past year. He is still a director of seven companies that seem to have stopped trading. However, it is believed that, through his company Mabengela Investments, he owns nearly R850-million worth of shares in Gupta-owned companies, including a R722.8-million stake in Tegeta.

Gordhan said he had referred the letter to his lawyers.

"The context matters. Why all of this? Two brothers getting noisy in the space of four days," he said in reference to Edward Zuma's disruption of his speech at the Gandhi Memorial Lecture, in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

Duduzane claimed there had been a Hawks investigation into his activities and those of the Gupta family that "came up with no wrongdoing".

The Hawks could not be reached for comment.

Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe said Duduzane's letter was a sign the Guptas and partners were feeling the heat.

"This ongoing mainstream media publication on alleged irregularities in how the Guptas run their business is starting to have a negative impact on the integrity of the Gupta businesses. It has become difficult for them to pursue business in this country and internationally."


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