ZIMBABWEAN businessman Frank Buyanga’s close links with South African President Jacob Zuma have come under the spotlight amid revelations that he was recently implicated in the “State Capture Report” in which the African National Congress leader’s relationship with the wealthy Gupta family was probed.
The businessman is reported to have been part of President Zuma’s entourage to Russia last year, and is believed to have been linked to the anti-corruption probe because of his close association with flamboyant arms dealer Fana Hlongwane — a key Zuma ally.
A source quoted by the South African media said: “We understand that Mr Buyanga’s (name) cropped up in (former Public Protector) Thuli Madonsela’s report, which called for remedial action to be taken in the form of a judicial commission and to be completed in six months.
“He might have been implicated in the Gupta and state-capture affair because of his business ties with Mr Hlongwane, who we know has been mentioned by a number of South African media outlets as a close associate of that Indian family.
“Nonetheless, Buyanga is so far in the clear although not entirely off the hook.”
While Madonsela’s report was premised on the need to establish the extent of the Gupta family’s alleged influence on President Zuma’s key decisions, including cabinet and parastatal appointments, Buyanga’s activities are also said to be under the spotlight following indications that he played a major role in South Africa’s exit from the International Criminal Court.
Media reports said that a few years ago, Buyanga’s British-born Israeli lawyer Nick Kaufman — an international criminal law and arbitration specialist — was in South Africa to lobby and advise the country to leave The Hague-based institution.
As the state capture debate continues, President Zuma’s office says it “remains concerned about the continued attacks and public statements” by the country’s ex-Public Protector.
According to the Presidency’s spokeperson Bongani Ngqulunga, Madonsela had discharged her duties well and had no further role to play in the process regarding the state capture report.
The state appointed corruption-buster had been compelled by the Pretoria High Court on November 2 to release the report and subsequently went on to release audio recordings of her interviews with the embattled ANC leader.
A spokesperson for President Zuma said the former PP’s “public statements were now unwarranted and unhelpful” to the saga.
“This conduct has serious implications with regards to ethics, confidentiality and the protection of information gathered by the Public Protector,” said Ngqulunga. Herald