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Zuma cosy with billionaire?

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By Paul Kirk

(source: Citizen Newspaper – pg4, Tues, 16-03-2010)

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma’s alleged links to a businessman associated with Israel’s “apartheid wall” may cause further unease in the tripartite alliance.Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, declined to comment on whether Zuma and his family may have benefited from an Israeli security boss who is involved in the construction of a wall enclosing Palestinian settlements.

Hulley refused to say whether billionaire international businessman Nathan Kirsch had been one of Zuma’s financial backers.Kirsch, who emphatically denied bankrolling any politician, has business interests worldwide, including Magal Security Systems, an Israeli company involved in the construction of the controversial wall.In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the wall was illegal.

The wall has been condemned by the ANC and its alliance partners Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party. Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said Cosatu’s stance was that Kirsch and his companies should be boycotted as a result of their activities in Israel. Lucky Lukhele of the Swaziland Solidarity Network said it was common knowledge in Swaziland that Kirsh and Zuma were friends. “Since Zuma took power he has been remarkably quiet on Swaziland. Where your previous president was often critical of Swaziland, Zuma has not been. He is not seen as a friend of the Swazi people,” Lukhele said Contacted at his Sandton home, Kirsch said: “One of my employees organised an introduction for me to Zuma in the period before he became president and I found the man to be affable and a good debater. We discussed the running of government and I suggested to him that he needs to get himself a really good chief of staff, to model himself on Ronald Reagan…” Kirsch also confirmed he was a close associate of the Swazi king: “My involvement with him is simply limited to trying to get the Swaziland economy going again. I have financial interests there and it is in my best interests to see the economy improve.” Asked whether Kirsch was supporting Zuma or his extended family, Hulley said: “I am loathe to discuss the finances of my client. Mr Zuma’s financial interests would be recorded in the confidential section of the register of members interests and as such can only be inspected by the Cabinet secretary.”