The first evidence has emerged of Duduzane Zuma’s role as a middleman between his father and international entities‚ with leaked e-mails showing he brokered a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and a private Russian investment company.
According to e-mails seen by Business Day‚ Russian investment company Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation contacted Duduzane on December 23 2014‚ requesting assistance in setting up a meeting between company chairman Vladimir Evtushenkov and Zuma in Davos‚ Switzerland.
It said Evtushenkov would be in Davos on January 21 and 22‚ the same time the World Economic Forum annual meeting took place.
Zuma was expected to be in Davos at the same time.
There has long been speculation about Duduzane’s role in providing access to Zuma and the influence he wields over his father’s decision making.
Constitutional experts say there is no problem with the president meeting companies and businesses‚ but if Duduzane is benefiting from the meetings it could be a conflict of interest.
Comment could not be obtained from either Duduzane or the Presidency.
According to the e-mails‚ Duduzane responded on January 1‚ telling Sistema managing director Evgeniy Chuikov he was in India and would be heading to the United States‚ but as soon he was back in South Africa he would “follow up with the matter in discussion”.
On January 27 2015‚ Chuikov sends Duduzane another e-mail thanking him for setting up the meeting for Evtushenkov.
“We met in Davos and had a very productive and warm catchup‚” he wrote.
Chuikov gave Duduzane a rundown of what was discussed between the two men‚ which included possible investment in South Africa particularly in healthcare and “smart city” technologies.
He said Zuma had expressed his support for Sistema’s efforts and mentioned that both areas “may be of interest to South Africa”.
“On smart city‚ President Zuma suggested we approach large municipalities such as Pretoria and possibly South Africa’s security ministry/services which these technologies are closely linked to‚” Chuikov said.
“On healthcare‚ we discussed opportunities to partner with South African healthcare operators both in SA and in Russia.”
He said Zuma had supported the healthcare idea and suggested introductions with key South African healthcare providers.
It is not clear if Sistema has any investment interests in South Africa.
The company did not respond to e-mailed questions.
Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casa) executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said if Duduzane was benefiting from setting up meetings with his father‚ he would be in contravention of Section 96 (2) of the constitution.
It said no cabinet members or deputy ministers could act in any way inconsistent with their office or expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests.
According to the e-mail‚ during the meeting it was agreed between Zuma and Evtushenkov that Sistema would plan a visit to South Africa in March 2015.
In June 2015‚ Chuikov informs Duduzane that Sistema will be travelling to South Africa and asks that they meet.
In November that year‚ Duduzane and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta travelled to Moscow.
It was not clear why the two men had travelled to Russia.
This was not the first time Duduzane had been to Russia.
In another e-mail dated August 22 2014‚ the Presidency sent Duduzane a copy of his visa for Russia.