Duduzane is likely to offer the ‘who, me?’ defence when he testifies

Duduzane Zuma, son of former South African president Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko

Duduzane Zuma, son of former South African president Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko

The younger Zuma will want to extricate himself by ‘feigning ignorance and pretending to have been unaware of any state capture in a bid to protect himself’.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane is expected to use the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to state his side of the story in an attempt to water down damaging testimony against himself and the Guptas, political analysts say.

But, warn the experts, he cannot be trusted to give an honest version of the events that form part of state capture allegations because he is implicated and also has to protect the Guptas. At the same time, the young man would struggle to repudiate the testimonies given by other witnesses against the Guptas and Zuma himself.

Duduzane is expected to appear before the commission to testify on the allegations of state capture involving himself and his business partners, the Guptas. A date for his appearance has not yet been set but the commission this week confirmed that he would be attending.

He applied to the commission to allow him to cross-examine former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who testified he had been invited by Duduzane to the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound after they met briefly in a hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in 2016.

He also wants to question former ANC MP and ex-chair of the portfolio committee on public enterprises Vytjie Mentor. Mentor testified that Duduzane introduced her to two of the Gupta brothers and their associate, Fana Hlongwane, while on a flight to China in 2010. 

Duduzane and the Guptas operated an empire of businesses including media and mining firms that were central in the state capture investigation by the former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, whose report on her investigation led to the appointment of the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Duduzane might have realised that there was no other opportunity to state his case than by coming to the commission.

“He believes he might be able to minimise the damage by stating his side of the story. He might have realised that by keeping quiet – when you are the mastermind – while there was a perception about you out there, that perception would stick,” Fikeni said.

Fikeni said the younger Zuma would want to extricate himself by feigning ignorance about the facts that are already before the commission, by pretending to have been unaware of what happened.

“He is likely to say he did not know what was happening; he would be going there to defend himself. However, he cannot be trusted to give an honest account of what happened in the state capture. He will be deliberately rehashing what their lawyers had been saying before the commission,” Fikeni said.

Another analyst, Ralph Mathekga, echoed Fikeni’s viewpoint, saying Duduzane was most likely to give another version of the story we have heard up to now.

“It will difficult for him though to discredit those who already testified against the Guptas. I don’t know exactly if he believes any version of the story is plausible beside the reigning idea that the Guptas [controlled] him and President Zuma to access state resources in a corrupt manner,” Mathekga said.


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