The Sunday Times has reported that former convicts Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie are linked to a R5-billion BEE deal involving Russian company Rosgeo.
According to the report, Kunene and McKenzie have an “increasingly cozy relationship” with President Jacob Zuma and have a strong influence on him.
Kunene and McKenzie allegedly travelled to Russia recently, at the same time as security minister David Mahlobo, to discuss a R5-billion gas deal with Rosgeo.
Earlier this month, state-owned PetroSA announced it had signed a $400-million (R5.3-billion) agreement with Rosgeo to drill for gas off the southern coast of South Africa.
“The project envisages extraction of up to 4 million cubic metres of gas daily. This will subsequently be delivered to the gas-to-liquids refinery in Mossel Bay,” said the company.
“The signed agreement is aimed at developing bilateral relations and will strengthen Rosgeo’s presence in the African market,” said Rosgeo CEO Roman Panov.
The Daily Maverick reported that the announcement of the deal came shortly after allegations of political meddling within PetroSA.
According to The Sunday Times, Kunene and McKenzie were introduced to Rosgeo CEO Panov as potential BEE partners by Mahlobo in August.
The report stated that “Mahlobo has been running around and organising deals for Kunene and McKenzie”.
ANC insiders told the newspaper that Kunene and McKenzie have access to “the big house” – Zuma’s official residence.
Update – I am not a Gupta
Gayton McKenzie will fight allegations that he is a “new Gupta” with “every legal means at [his] disposal”.
“I am not a Gupta, new or old,” McKenzie declared in a statement released on Sunday after the Sunday Times for the second week running carried stories that McKenzie, a controversial businessman and leader of the Patriotic Alliance, and his friend Kenny Kunene stand to benefit from a cosy relationship with President Jacob Zuma in a way similar to that of the Guptas.
This week the Sunday Times reported that McKenzie and Kunene stood to benefit as BEE partners to a Russian company in a multibillion-rand gas deal.
McKenzie denies these, and other allegations levelled against him and pointed out that he does not do business with the state or any SOE’s.
“Being labelled a ‘Gupta’ is possibly the most defamatory label that can currently be attached to a person in South Africa, but that goes 100-fold for anyone who is in business or politics, and I am in both,” read McKenzie’s statement.
“The reality is that the name ‘Gupta’ has become a swearword and a curse in South Africa. The Guptas are not even able to hold a bank account. They lost their JSE sponsor. They have been forced to sell their businesses simply because of the profound hostility towards them in the South African context. Which sane human being would want to be a Gupta in South Africa? You may as well shoot yourself in the head, it would be less painful,” said McKenzie.
“I therefore take huge exception to Kenny and I being called the ‘new Guptas’. The danger of this to my reputation is so profound it risks my entire livelihood and the thousands of people who rely on the success of my businesses. I will not leave the label unchallenged.”
McKenzie believes he is the victim of a smear campaign by “those who want Cyril Ramaphosa to be the next president of South Africa [and] are very upset by the leaks that emerged of all the deputy president’s many extramarital affairs”.
“They have blamed Kenny and me for this, but I had nothing to do with those leaks, and as far as I know Kenny only published the videos of one of Cyril’s girlfriends after he was sent that footage, which was also sent to many other people in the media,” said McKenzie.
“I refuse to be turned into a weapon in the ANC’s factional wars. People think I am an easy target because of my criminal past, which I’ve never tried to hide from.”
“I obviously don’t fit the ‘acceptable mould’ of the black businessman in South Africa. Not only do I not criticise Zuma, I admire the man openly. That doesn’t make me his “pal”, it merely means I hold a contrary view to the mainstream media,” reads McKenzie’s statement.
“My trouble with the media clearly started the moment I wrote an opinion piece questioning the agenda of the anti-Zuma cabal. But I will not change my political opinions simply because of bad press.”
“They have a fight on their hands,” warned McKenzie. “I shall fight these groundless attacks with every legal means at my disposal.”
Additional reporting by News24