NEWS
07/11/2017 08:56 SAST | Updated 07/11/2017 08:56 SAST

'Controversial Company' Sponsored Jacob Zuma's Birthday Parties

"Mr Jacob Zuma, may we take this opportunity to thank you for the splendid birthday dinner planned at a short notice."

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA via Getty Images

In a Fin24 exclusive, it has been reported that President Jacob Zuma's birthday parties in 2015 and 2016 were sponsored by controversial facilities management company Bosasa.

Bosasa, which is led by CEO Gavin Watson, is under criminal investigation by the Hawks after it was found to have bribed prison officials for tenders by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

News24 revealed that Bosasa paid about R3.5-million for the parties through Zuma's foundation, led by former SAA chair Dudu Myeni.

Read: Zuma Denies Receiving R1-Million 'Monthly Salary'

The birthday parties were hosted at Dube House, Zuma's presidential residence in Durban. Zuma's family was in attendance, as well as Watson and other Bosasa executives.

"Mr Jacob Zuma, may we take this opportunity to thank you for the splendid birthday dinner planned at a short notice."Dudu Myeni Letter

Myeni, who chairs the Jacob Zuma Foundation, has denied any wrongdoing.

Bosasa paid for the catering and decor at the parties and handed Zuma a specially crafted chess gift set at his April 12, 2015 function.

News24

Myeni thanked Watson for hosting Zuma's 74th birthday party in a letter written on April 16, 2016.

"On behalf of the Patron of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, may we take this opportunity to thank you for the splendid birthday dinner planned at a short notice.

"In the case of Bosasa, it provided its services of catering to the party."

"The family was thrilled to have a memorable time with their father, intimately enjoying the wonderful dinner, prepared with care. The chef's creativity and professionalism was (sic) commended by everyone.

"Thank you for your generosity and time spent to ensure that the first family had the grandest birthday," Myeni concluded.

News24

Bosasa constructed a marquee on the presidential house's helipad and front gardens. Two sources confirmed to News24 that the two parties amounted to R3.5-million in expenses for Bosasa.

Myeni admitted that Bosasa had hosted the birthday parties.

"In the case of Bosasa, it provided its services of catering to the party."

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Myeni explained that her relationship with donors or any company that had supported the foundation was above board.

"We have no special relationship with Gavin Watson."

African Global/Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane said News24's questions were part of an "emerging agenda-driven campaign to discredit the company".

"Your questions, regrettably, insinuates that African Global has a special relationship with President Jacob Zuma and ANC.

"African Global has no special relationship with President Zuma. Like any other corporate entity anywhere in the world, African Global does interact with the ANC as the current ruling party of our republic.

"It will be naive of any business operating in any country not to assess the state of stability and policies for business continuity", Leshabane said.

City Press revealed in 2011 that an Special Investigating Unit investigation had found Bosasa bribed former prisons boss Linda Mti and department chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham with houses and cars to win state tenders. The case was given to the Hawks in 2009, but the National Prosecuting Authority has failed to institute a prosecution.