Dutch daily highly critical of corrupt Zuma cabinet

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The Dutch financial daily “NRC Handelsblad”  has published a highly critical article about the increasing self-enrichment of South Africa’s new elite – writing that the high-level corruption is causing a split in the historic ANC-Cosatu-SA Communist Party alliance… (translated from Dutch)

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JOHANNESBURG. – “When Jacob Zuma became president in May last year, nobody had ever heard of his nephew Khubuluse. Meanwhile Khubuluse Zuma has become one of the richest men in the country, thanks to lucrative deals,” writes the Dutch financial daily NRC Handelsblad in two highly critical articles on December 6,2010.

Anatomical Lesson of Fraud and Corruption by ANC elite NRC HANDELSBLAD CARTOON

Its article, headlined ‘Corruption and Fraud Rising Fast in South Africa,’ is accompanied by a mocking  cartoon of the famous Rembrandt van Rijn painting, widely known as the “Anatomy Lesson’… showing President Zuma and his leading cabinet members in close attendance, with ex-president Thabo Mbeki looking away, DA-leader Helen Zille looking dismayed and Nobel-peace laureate Desmond Tutu towering above them all….

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The Johannesburg correspondent for the NRC Handelsblad writes:

“ Nephew Khubuluse mainly earns his billions through mining-concessions. Together with president Zuma’s personal lawyer and a grandson of Nelson Mandela, he is the owner of mining company Aurora – controversial because the wages of its miners have not been paid for months. The Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding company took a 49 percent share in a company run by Zuma’s nephew last July – only days after the South African president had received the CEO of the company.

One of President Zuma’s sons, 28-year-old Duduzane Zuma, also profits from the family ties. Duduzane was sharply criticised this year when the South African branch of Arcelor Mittal handed him a one-billion Euro share-deal under the guise of the Black Economic Empowerment laws of South africa in August. After fierce criticism from especially the Cosatu trade union, Zuma junior announced that he would be supporting charitable projects ‘so that more people would benefit’.

A recent report by consultant Deloitte describes the growing corruption in South Africa ‘one of the biggest worries for the economic sector.’ According to a World Bank investigation, one-third of South African companies only expect to obtain any government contracts after ‘a gift’ to officials. South Afria dropped from place 54 to 178th place on the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International.

The ruling ANC acknowledged at a party congress in September that the party is in the grip of corruption – and promised improvements, and the Zuma-government has turned the battle against financial shenanigans the key-point of its cabinet-policy. Finance minister Pravin Gordhan claims that South Africa loses 2,5-billion Euros annually through corruption and fraud through government contracts.

However analysts in South Africa ask themselves whether Zuma would be the appropriate person to wage the battle against corruption. The president himself is suspected of accepting bribes around the large weapons-purchase in South Africa in the late nineties. Just before his election as President these charges were withdrawn on technical grounds. And the last investigations into the arms deal were unexpectedly scrapped in October.

Only Zuma’s financial advisor Schabir Shaik was found guilty in 2005 of accepting bribes – but was released on medical grounds three years later.

Last month Zuma launched a new probe into the corruption at the government departments. The announcement coincided with the arrest of the Northern Cape province finance minister, ANC-kingpin John Block on suspicion of corruption, fraude and money-laundering around the purchase of water-purification plants in the province. Block refused to give up his function and was released on bail. http://www.nrc.nl/digitaleeditie/NH/20101206___/1_008/

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About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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