Reports about the Zuma family empire and recent threats made by Julius Malema are echoing throughout South Africa news. Other news of money laundering and corruption within the African National Congress (ANC) party address concerns of a blatant misuse of trust by President Jacob Zuma’s empire involving his entire family, including the contracts obtained over the past five years and cover the gain of wealth throughout the land.
Recent threats made by Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party established a year ago which gained significant support during the May 2014 election, have made the news. Malema has threatened to stop business in the Johannesburg city center and this threat follows the abrupt ban on his party members wearing red overalls to government meetings.
The new threat by Malema follows a blasting during the Gauteng Legislature meeting last week and the EFF party plans to walk in downtown Johannesburg to protest the choice of dress code. Malema said the planned protest would make last week’s march look like a picnic in the park. Malema expects more than 50,000 supports of the EFF to join in the protest.
The protest according to Malema will shut down all businesses in Johannesburg, South Africa and will have a resounding effect on all businesses throughout Africa. Malema boasted of how influential the EFF party has grown over the past year and reminded fans that the ruling ANC party was scared of the EFF party. Malema told supporters the EFF had shaken the political landscape of South Africa and was not some insignificant structure.
On the Zuma empire front, over the past five years, members of President Jacob Zuma’s family have obtained lucrative contracts in various different sectors. Since the inception of Zuma as president of South Africa, family members have expanded the family empire by securing agreements in gold and diamond mining, oil production and retail industries including airline deals.
It is not only the obtaining of massive contracts that have contributed to the Zuma empire expanding but the beneficial government jobs for members of the family. Recently Zuma’s 25-year-old daughter, Thutukile was appointed the Chief of Staff of the Post and Telecommunications boasting almost one million rand a year salary. This appointment was not well received and caused an outcry.
The new appointment is not the only uproar echoing through South Africa. The charities setup by other members of the Zuma family have raised a cause for concern as no indication of money or donations spent are revealed. The alleged links of a Lithuanian billionaire to organized crime and connections to a convicted killer while attempting to do business continue to raise dismay within South Africa.
The illegal Idwale coal mine operated by the Gupta family, which has Dudezane Zuma as a shareholder, has provoked concern for the abuse of destroying a wetland and endangering protected species. The blatant continuation of illegal mining activities and ignoring the environment remains a worry. There are concerns that the government did nothing to stop the illegalities of the Idwale mine or revoke the mining licence.
The Zuma family connection of securing a government tender for Transnet worth ZAR50 billion before successful bidders were announced raised concerns of fairness. This nepotism is shocking within government sectors and the Zuma family extend this act freely to secure the iron-fist rule. While competent people might qualify for a position that requires ability and skill, the appointment of inexperienced family members has caused a furor among citizens of South Africa.
The ANC party and members have also been in the media due to the announcement that they would seek additional funding to do the work they are supposed to be doing. The ANC party had decided to create a law or framework for all government structures to ensure monies for political parties would be avaliable to uphold their policies. Opposition parties expressed concern and said this would put additional pressure on tax treasury.
In addition, a report has revealed that nineteen members of Zuma’s new cabinet have interests in private companies, including the president. The report stated that during Zuma’s first five-year term up to 27-cabinet members had a vested interest in private companies compared to the new cabinet. The Institute of Justice and Reconciliation spokesperson Hennie van Vuuren said the ministers might have exposed themselves to the office by breaching the Executive Members’ Ethics Act. Further, a top ANC official, Brian Hlongwa, may face charges relating to corruption and money-laundering. The charges connect to tenders amounting to over ZAR1,4 billion awarded during his term as the Gauteng MEC for health.
While Malema rants about bringing down the Johannesburg city businesses, the Zuma family continue to expand their empire. The corruption, fraud, nepotism and accumulation of wealth continue to flourish within South Africa while elite members of the Zuma administration continue to battle for prime positions to serve under the Zuma realm.
Opinion by Laura Oneale