JOHANNESBURG. – Former president Jacob Zuma will reportedly take legal action against the Sunday Times and the journalist “in her personal capacity”, following a story claiming he allegedly agreed to keep the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s millions in safekeeping for him and his family in 2011, Africa News 24-7 announced on Twitter on Tuesday.
Africa News 24-7 is known for often having direct access to former president Zuma and has in the past revealed insider information about him, as well as publishing exclusive interviews with Zuma. The website is edited by former Sunday Independent editor Steve Motale, who wrote a passionate editorial endorsing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma prior to the 2017 Nasrec conference that saw Cyril Ramaphosa elected.
“Breaking News: Former President @PresJGZuma is set to sue The Sunday Times and its journalist in her personal capacity following its claims that R422 million from Muammar Gaddafi was hidden at Zuma’s Nkandla residence and moved to Swaziland earlier this year, Developing story. – Africa News 24-7 (@AfricaNews24_7) April 9, 2019”.
Responding to the Sunday Times report, Zuma asked the publication where the money was and why eSwatini monarch King Mswati III knew nothing about it. The eSwatini and South African governments also denied allegations made in a Sunday Times report that millions in cash belonging to the Libyan government ended up in their countries.
The money had apparently reached South African shores at the behest of slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu addressed the matter during an ANC briefing on Monday.
She denied the paper’s claim that eSwatini monarch King Mswati III confirmed to President Cyril Ramaphosa that R422 million of Libyan money had been moved from former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home to the landlocked country.
“There is no money that we are aware of and I spoke honestly and as the minister of international relations, I have not found any money that belongs to Libyans. If the Libyans make a request for us to investigate this matter, we will. The story on the front page (of the Sunday Times) doesn’t reflect the realities on the ground,” she said.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the former president hung on to the stash of dollars for years after the strongman was killed following a Nato operation in North Africa.
They referred to the stash as “Gaddafi’s missing millions” and estimated $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 III, who reportedly confirmed last week in a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa that he had 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 its improper security upgrades, she was not allowed access to the bunker.
The paper reported “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.
In a statement on Sunday, the DA called on President Ramaphosa to take the nation into his confidence and “come clean” about his involvement in the case of the missing millions.
DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said: “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.
“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 tonnes of gold and 6 million carats of diamonds, were allegedly 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. – The Citizen