South Africa 5.2.2014 06:00 am

First lady’s ‘secret’ blower can harm Zuma more

FILE PICTURE: Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, wife of President Jacob Zuma, meets with US first lady Michelle Obama. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

FILE PICTURE: Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, wife of President Jacob Zuma, meets with US first lady Michelle Obama. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

The intimidation case opened by one of President Jacob Zuma’s wives against Tanzanian national Steven Masunga could have negative political implications for the ANC president, a political expert said yesterday.

“I do not think it will make the President look good – the timing is not right at all,” political analyst Protas Madlala said.

Masunga, who was arrested in Durban a week ago after one of the president’s wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli – known as MaNtuli – laid charges against him alleging the Tanzanian had sent her intimidating cellphone messages, will appear at the Camperdown Magistrate Court today for a bail application.

According to the charge sheet, Masunga is alleged to have threatened to expose MaNtuli if the first lady did not arrange a meeting between him and her husband, Zuma.

Prior to his arrest two weeks ago, the Tanzanian had e-mailed several media houses in Durban, telling journalists he had been receiving large amounts of money from MaNtuli, meant to buy his silence on the matter relating to her former bodyguard, Phinda Thomo, who reportedly committed suicide in 2009.

Thomo’s mysterious death spurred rumours that the bodyguard, whom it was speculated had an affair with MaNtuli, took his own life after realising a Durban newspaper was about to publish a story about the affair.

Masunga, who was remanded in police custody, told journalists during one of his appearances this week the case was an opportunity for him to reveal all: “I will tell the truth,” he said.

Should the matter proceed, the Tanzanian’s testimony could be a blow to Zuma, whose reputation had been rocked by – among other things – the security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, said to have cost the taxpayer a whopping R208 million.

Madlala said the Masunga matter was bad for Zuma – particularly in the midst of an election campaign.

“The fact of the matter is that the president cannot afford any more bad publicity,” he said.

Asked by The Citizen whether the president was worried about the Masunga matter, spokesperson in the presidency Mac Maharaj said: “We do not comment on matters before the courts”.

 

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