The Sunday Times has reported that then president Jacob Zuma not only allegedly agreed to keep the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s millions in safekeeping for him and his family in 2011, he hung on to the stash of dollars for years after the strongman was killed following a Nato operation in North Africa.
They refer to the stash as “Gaddafi’s missing millions” and estimate $30 million (worth about R422 million at the current exchange rate) in cash was given to Zuma for personal safekeeping by Gaddafi in case the Libyan leader was captured and would need legal representation, as well as to look after his family.
Zuma allegedly later sent the money to Eswatini’s King Mswati, who reportedly confirmed last week in a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa that he has the money. He had earlier allegedly denied this during Ramaphosa’s state visit to Eswatini at the start of March.
According to the Sunday Times, when then public protector Thuli Madonsela was investigating Zuma’s Nkandla home in 2013 for her investigation of its improper security upgrades, she was not allowed access to the bunker.
The paper reports “authorities are [now] certain” there was a lot money hidden in the bunker at the time.
Speculation surrounds Zuma’s alleged attempts to convert the money into rands for his own use, including to pay for his own legal fees related to arms deal corruption, which the state under Ramaphosa is no longer willing to fund.
For further details on the stories, read the Sunday Times article here.
In a statement on Sunday, the DA called on Ramaphosa to take the nation into his confidence and “come clean” about his involvement in the case of the missing millions.
“In addition, the president needs to aid in recovering these millions and to ensure that the National Prosecuting Authority holds Zuma accountable for his actions. According to the reports, President Ramaphosa seems to have intimate knowledge of the dodgy dealings by his predecessor,” said DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi.
“It is completely unacceptable that Zuma remains free after aiding the late North African dictator and the NPA must act swiftly on these reports to ascertain their accuracy.
“This missing money is of keen interest to several bodies, including the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and the United States Authorities. There are possible violations of sanctions associated with the money, as well as the contravention of foreign exchange controls,” said Malatsi.=
Five years ago, The Sunday Independent reported that R2 trillion in US dollars (valued at the stronger exchange rate of the time) from Libya was being stored at seven heavily guarded warehouses and bunkers in secret locations in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The newspaper reported that the Hawks were investigating a possible violation of exchange-control regulations.
The assets, which included hundreds of tons of gold and 6 million carats of diamonds, were ferried to South Africa in at least 62 flights between Tripoli and South Africa, they reported, though it has proven difficult to establish all the facts of what happened to Libya’s sovereign wealth following the chaos that has engulfed the state since Gaddafi’s removal.
The R2 trillion allegedly excluded several billion rands held legally in four banks in South Africa.
Most of the assets were taken out of Libya when then president Zuma got involved in an African Union process to persuade Gaddafi to step down after an uprising to force him out of office began in February 2011.
On April 10, 2011, Zuma announced that Gaddafi had accepted a roadmap for ending the conflict in his country following talks in Tripoli. Libyan rebels rejected the plan.
Gaddafi was captured and killed on October 20 that year.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)