The Guptas think I'm a 'likeable guy' - Duduzane Zuma tells the BBC

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma on Thursday defended his business relations with the controversial Gupta-family, saying they became partners because he is “a likeable guy.” 

"I don’t think they wanted anything from me. They liked me. As I liked them. I think I’m a likeable guy," Duduzane said. 

“It was just a meeting of minds - they understood me, I understood them."

Duduzane was speaking with the BBC World News in an interview for Focus on Africa aired on Thursday afternoon. 

In the interview, Duduzane also denied allegations by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas that he was offered a bribe by Gupta family. 

“I was present. There was no such thing [such as a bribe] that took [place],” Duduzane said. 

He said the meeting between the family and Jonas was arranged by him to “sort out certain issues.”

Both Duduzane and the Gupta family has been implicated in alleged corruption through a series of leaked emails. The Gupta family previously questioned the authenticity of the emails. 

The leaked emails alleged that the family bought president Zuma a ‘palace’ in Dubai, but Duduzane said Zuma owns no property in the Middle Eastern City. 

“I think my father is a grown man does not need anyone buying any properties on his behalf.”

Asked whether he is concerned that he might face criminal prosecution in South Africa, Duduzane said that the thought only crossed his mind during the interview. 

“It just crossed my mind now. It’s the first time … I don’t know if you saw it crossing my mind but it’s gone,” he said laughing. 

Here is a short transcript of the highlights. 

ON WHY HE IS A BUSINESS PARTNER OF THE GUPTAS

Duduzane Zuma (DZ): I don’t think they wanted anything from me. They liked me. As I liked them. I think I’m a likeable guy!

Milton Nkosi (MN): Why did they like you, do you think?

DZ: That’s a question that you’ll have to ask them. I don’t know. I think I’m a likeable guy. There’s nothing untoward about it. There’s no unpacking the relationship and what was in it for them, what was in it for me. It was just a meeting of minds - they understood me, I understood them. 

MN: You don’t look back and say – maybe they wanted me because I’m the son of the president?

DZ: I look back and I think I’m glad I met these guys and I’m glad we are where we are today. 

MN: And then we had this bolt out of the blue, where the deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas, comes out tells the public that he was offered a bribe by the Guptas in your presence. Were you present that day – was Mcebisi Jonas offered a bribe by the Guptas?

DZ: Mister Jonas was not offered a bribe by the Guptas. I did meet them. I was present. There was no such thing that took part. 

MN: So what was the purpose of his visit then?

DZ: It wasn’t a visit per se, it was a meeting that was arranged from my side to sort out certain issues – that had nothing to do with the Guptas or any other related people them.

MN: So you are clear – it’s either you are telling the truth or he is lying.

DZ: That’s absolutely correct.

MN: So which is it?

DZ: I’m telling the truth. 

ON CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

MN: You are the son of the South African president and you are here in Dubai – why are you here? Do you have a property here? 

DZ: (Laughs…..) Firstly I’m on business here. Secondly Dubai is a wonderful place and I’m you would agree. Thirdly, I do not have a property in Dubai. I do not own an apartment in the Burj Khalifa.

MN: Does your father own a house an apartment here?

DZ: My father owns a house it’s in Nkandla. His area is called Nkandla it’s in northern KwaZulu Natal. In Dubai he does not own any property, whatsoever.

MN: Did the Guptas buy a property on his behalf?

DZ: I think my father is a grown man does not need anyone buying any properties on his behalf including myself. 

MN: But there’s no property under a company that is linked to you or linked to the Guptas perhaps on your behalf? I just want to clarify that because that has been in the media for many weeks now.

DZ: I do not own any property. My father does not own any property in this beautiful country - or beautiful city, should I say. And as far as I’m concerned, I mean, the Guptas have three brothers, I’m not sure if there are any other Guptas in this wonderful place but none of us own any properties.

MN: I hope that, because you know the importance of these issues, perhaps you would allow me a little bit of leniency in asking this question – Mr Zuma are you corrupt?

DZ: Mr. Nkosi, I’m not corrupt. I’m not corrupt. I’ve not involved myself in any corrupt practice, in any corrupt business. 

MN: Are you concerned that you may be, in the end, locked up following all these allegations, going to prison for corruption. Does that cross your mind?

DZ: It just crossed my mind now. It’s the first time … I don’t know if you saw it crossing my mind but it’s gone! (Laughs…) No. 

MN: It doesn’t cross your mind?

DZ: Why should it? It just crossed it now, since you mentioned it. I actually saw it crossing now and it’s gone. 

MN: Duduzane Zuma thank you for joining us in this BBC interview.