Duduzane Zuma, the son of former President Jacob Zuma, has lamented the breakdown of his relationship with Deputy President David Mabuza after he helped him get treatment for alleged poisoning.
The young Zuma recalled airlifting Mabuza to Russia for treatment in a 44-minute recorded conversation with his father, dubbed Zooming With Zumas, uploaded on YouTube on Tuesday.
He said he received a call around August 2015 informing him that Mabuza, who was Premier of Mpumalanga at the time, was “unwell” and needed help in seeking further medical treatment in Moscow.
Zuma Jr said he arranged a helicopter airlift for Mabuza from Nelspruit to OR Tambo International Airport before onward “extraction” to Russia. He described the entire operation as “risky.”
“We have someone that’s on an aeroplane who is not medically cleared to fly. So, if anything happens between the point of departure and arrival, his death would be on my hands,” he explained.
Zuma Jr claimed Mabuza told him that he had been poisoned and would “find these people and I’m going to make them pay for this.” He also claimed Mabuza was in such a bad state of health that he had to “remove his shoes and undress him sometimes.”
He said he stayed with the ex-Premier in Moscow for “five or six days” before returning to South Africa. Once Mabuza was ready to return to South Africa, he went to fetch him along with his “business partner” Tony Gupta.
‘Breakdown in relationship’
Zuma Jr said, “[Mabuza] spent a few days in one of the guest houses in Saxonwold [former residence of the Gupta family]. He was well looked after and was there with his wife, so he was in good hands.
“I’m mentioning this story because he is someone that was dear to all of us and still is. There’s been a breakdown in my relationship with him and not from my side, [but] from his side. My understanding of it – I clearly don’t know. Maybe one day myself and him will have that discussion.
“He’s someone that I’ve always held in high regard. I’m not asking him for any favours and I’m never asked him for anything. I was part of a team that saved his life.
“I’m not looking for any preferential treatment, but I used to speak to him from time to time post the operation that we embarked on … and then from nowhere it just stopped and I realised that clearly there is a problem.”
Mabuza was reportedly among a group of Premiers, dubbed “Premier league,” which formed the bedrock of Jacob Zuma’s support from the African National Congress’ (ANC) 2007 national conference. Others were former Premiers Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo.
There was widespread expectation that he would back Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC President at the party’s conference in 2017. However, he chose to push a message of “unity.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa subsequently emerged victorious at the conference, leading to perceptions that Mabuza, who also emerged as ANC Deputy President, had “betrayed” the Zuma faction.
Zuma and his son also spoke about other events in their lives, including Zuma’s own alleged poisoning as well as the passing of Zuma Jr’s mother and brother Vusi Nhlakanipho Zuma.
To watch the conversation on YouTube, click here.