POLITICS

Ferial Haffajee: We're Beginning To See The Zuma Dynasty Emerging

The power and influence of President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane is appearing to grow.

22/05/2017 14:40 SAST | Updated 23/05/2017 17:31 SAST
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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - 4 March 2011: Indian businessmen Ajay and Atul Gupta, and Sahara director, Duduzane Zuma speak to the City Press from the New Age Newspaper's offices in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 March 2011. (Photo by Gallo Images/City Press/Muntu Vilakazi)

ANALYSIS

President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, has assumed a role akin to that of a presidential adviser or prime minister in South Africa's body politic.

News at the weekend linked Zuma Jr. to an intelligence report which influenced the 2015 removal of executives at Eskom. The growing power and influence of Duduzane at the heart of the state -- the Presidency -- suggests the emergence of dynastic politics.

The president's other son, Edward, is also given significant airtime on matters of state and recent reports revealed policy imperatives are set and discussed in a powerful WhatsApp group he runs.

Duduzane Zuma is not only an independent businessman. He wields significant political authority.

The Sunday Times reported that Duduzane had allegedly drawn up an inteligence report which resulted in the removal of previous Eskom chief executive Tshediso Matona and three other executives from their posts.

This cleared the way for Brian Molefe's appointment as Eskom boss and the subsequent enrichment of the Gupta family and their business partner Salim Essa. This was through preferential terms given to the coal-mining compay Tegeta which holds the family's Optimum mine assets.

In addition, amaBhungane last week revealed that the management consultancy and capital raising company Trillian, which is part-owned by Essa, earned hundreds of millions in Eskom contracts. When Molefe was chief executive of Transnet the company also hit paydirt with significant contracts.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi confirmed last week that Duduzane escorted his replacement Mosebenzi Zwane to the Union Buildings ahead of his swearing in.

Duduzane joined the Gupta family when his father was in the political doldrums after being axed by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2005. President Zuma has repeatedly said the family rescued his son. With them, the 34-year-old princeling has built a substantial business career that spans mining, media and other interests. Last year, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe objected to criticism of Duduzane's business links to the Gupta family. "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," he told the Sunday Times.

But Duduzane is not only an independent businessman. He wields significant political authority. Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas told former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that Duduzane had set up the appointment where the Gupta family offered him the job of finance minister late in 2015 before the shock axing of incumbent Nhlanhla Nene. And former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi confirmed last week that Duduzane escorted his replacement Mosebenzi Zwane to the Union Buildings ahead of his swearing in. They had walked out of the President's office ahead of Ramatlhodi walking in to get his marching orders.

Duduzane's influence over politics is unusual in democratic South Africa.

Ramatlhodi last week revealed to AmaBhungane that the Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane and Molefe had attempted to strongarm him into stripping the mining company Glencore of its mining licences.

Duduzane's influence over politics is unusual in democratic South Africa. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela served in Nelson Mandela's inaugural cabinet as a deputy minister, but she had an independent political pedigree.

Under President Thabo Mbeki, his wife Zanele Mbeki undertook peace-building and women's empowerment projects as first lady. None of any former president's children came to occupy such positions of political influence.

** This story has been amended to reflect the following changes:

Thabo Mbeki's wife's name is Zanele, not Zanela.

The Mbeki's only child disappeared during the time they were in exile.