The alleged ‘retirement home’ for the president has been tracked to a mansion worth R330m in an estate boasting former and current state tyrants.
A front-page report in the Sunday Times claims that the latest information from the #GuptaLeaks emails suggests President Jacob Zuma is the owner of a R330 million “retirement home” in the most upmarket suburb of Dubai.
It further claims President Robert Mugabe is his “close neighbour” in the gated estate. The Mugabes deny they are still using their 10-bedroom mansion, although a Dubai estate agent claims he sold the property to Grace Mugabe for R130 million in 2015 after she started off by renting it for R500 000 a month.
Details of the Mugabe property reportedly later emerged in a court case.
The palatial “Zuma home” allegedly bought for him by his friends the Guptas has “10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a double grand staircase, nine reception rooms and space for 11 cars”, with fittings of marble, mosaic and gold.
The leaked emails revealed this week that Zuma’s son Duduzane allegedly also owns an R18 million apartment in the Burj Khalifa skyscraper and has a residency permit expiring in October 2018, all of which was allegedly facilitated by his business partners the Guptas.
Atul Gupta allegedly also arranged for the cleaning of the “Zuma mansion” for R30 000 a month, starting at the end of 2015, according to the report.
Last week the first tranche of emails came to light suggesting that the president and the Guptas had been helping each other to both take control of the South African state and repatriate their “loot” to the United Arab Emirates so that they could retire in peace later, far from the troublesome arms of law enforcement.
EFF leader Julius Malema alleged last year that Zuma was planning to flee the country and that he was taking huge amounts of money to the UAE in bags.
City Press had also reported that an email from Ashu Chawla, the CEO of the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers, to Duduzane contained a draft letter from the president to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which showed how close Zuma is to the Guptas.
Zuma allegedly wrote in the letter: “I fondly remember our meeting in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and the gracious hospitality and warmth extended to me during my visit. It is with this sentiment that I am happy to inform you that my family has decided to make the UAE a second home. It will be a great honour for me and my family to gain your patronage during our proposed residency in the UAE.”
Zuma, through his spokesperson, Bongani Nqulunga, rubbished allegations that he had any plans to live in Dubai. This week, he reiterated this response to the new allegations, telling the Sunday Times: “President Jacob Zuma does not own a house outside the borders of South Africa. He has no intention of owning one any time in the future.”
Zuma had said in a statement last week: “I have my home in Nkandla and I have no intention of living anywhere else. When I retire I will go home to Nkandla.” He called the information in the leaked emails “absolute mischief aimed at sowing confusion”.
Mugabe’s spokesperson told the Sunday Times that “President Mugabe rented that property for his son who was studying in Dubai. The property is no longer there.”
The paper also revealed that among the other high-profile people living in the Emirates Hills estate are a former Pakistani president who was jailed for eight years for corruption and money laundering and a Thai prime minister jailed in absentia – after being removed from power in a coup in 2006 – for corruption and other alleged crimes.