Duduzane Zuma seems to be enjoying Dubai – but he could be in trouble if authorities notice
- From his self-documented exploits, Duduzane Zuma seems to be having a good time on the water in Dubai.
- South Africans have noted the setting and companions the videos show. Authorities in Dubai may notice other details.
- If either or both of the videos are as recent as they appear, they show Zuma and companions flaunting coronavirus rules – which have seen other yacht users heavily fined.
- For more stories go to www.BusinssInsider.co.za.
Videos that seem to show Duduzane Zuma having a fabulous time in Dubai have recently circulated on social media, re-igniting interest in the former president's son.
But while South Africans have focused on the yachts, companions, and music in the videos, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may notice a different set of details – which could cost Zuma money.
With no sign of masks or social distancing, the videos suggest that Zuma is not following Dubai's pandemic protocols, and that can prove to be expensive.
One video shows Zuma and a male companion (and, judging by reflections caught in his sunglasses, at least two more people) cruising the Dubai marina during the day.
It is not clear that the video is recent, but the location is certain from buildings in the background – and the UAE flag the boat is flying.
Another video features Zuma and a multinational group of young women – one each from the USA, Egypt, South Africa, Armenia, and Germany – sending a birthday message to “big brother Max”, from what appears to be the deck of a large boat in the Dubai marina.
The night-time video shows at least eight people, none in masks, and some pressed quite close together.
Publicly available context suggests that the video is recent – and so shows a flaunting of Dubai's coronavirus rules.
While the identity of “Max” isn’t explicitly revealed by Zuma, a popular restaurant based in Durban reposted the video on Facebook on 5 April with the caption: “Birthday wishes from Duduzane Zuma to Mr @max_mqadi, Happy Birthday Mr Mqadi wishing you many more.”
The restaurant – Max's Lifestyle – is owned by businessman Max Mqadi, who was born on 5 April.
Zuma visited Max's Lifestyle in March 2020. “Today we have the Honourable Duduzane Zuma in the building, giving him a taste like no other,” read a Facebook caption from the restaurant at the time.
Mqadi is well-connected to prominent ANC politicians, describing in one interview how then ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula would often visit his shisanyama.
If either or both videos are as recent as they appear, Zuma will have to hope that the Dubai authorities are not keeping an eye on social media.
For almost a year now, masks have been required outside of residences in Dubai, and fines of Dh3,000 (R12,000) are regularly issued to those caught without a face covering
Dubai also recently tightened its rules about parties: only “first-degree” relatives are allowed, with a maximum of 10 guests. (The various companions in Zuma's videos do not appear to be members of his immediate family.)
In February, Dubai police issued a Dh50,000 (almost R200,000) fine to the organiser of a party on a yacht.
While it is not clear what source of income is financing Zuma's lifestyle of parties and yachts, at least some of his assets are probably not doing well.
For starters, the posh apartment he reportedly bought in 2015 – reportedly with assistance from the Gupta family – may now be worth a lot less, as Dubai property prices continue to fall.
According to a Sunday Times report, Zuma bought an apartment in the Burj Khalifa skyscraper – once the tallest building in the world - for Dh5 million‚ through one of the companies he co-owned with the Guptas‚ Wens Holdings Limited.
Zuma bought the 175 square metre apartment right near the peak of the Dubai property bubble, which has since burst due to an oversupply of properties and weak demand. Residential prices are down 30% in the last seven years.
Currently a Burj Khalifa apartment of the same size is on sale for less than Dh3.4 million (almost R16 million). In dirham terms, Zuma’s apartment has lost a third of its value since 2015.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika in October, Zuma said he was no longer in business with the Gupta family. When asked what he was doing in Dubai, Zuma said he was “doing my own thing.”
He also said he had left South Africa in 2015 after being “excluded from the financial system in the way of bank accounts”, and that he is still “financially inactive” in South Africa.
At the time, South African banks had started closing accounts of various companies owned by the Guptas. According to a Bloomberg report last year, an investigation into Pakistan’s largest bank revealed that staff at its UAE operation had skirted rules in opening an account for Zuma in Dubai in 2016.
Jacob Zuma last year lashed out at the Zondo Commission amid reports that the state capture inquiry was investigating his children’s bank accounts.
(Compiled by BI SA team)
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