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Qatar circles SA: Is Zuma secretly selling stakes in Denel, SAA and Eskom?

EDINBURGH — After the Sars Wars fake news fiasco, it’s tempting to take Sunday Times stories built on interviews with anonymous sources with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, it was the Sunday Times that lifted the lid on President Jacob Zuma’s secret talks with Russia to develop a nuclear build programme designed mostly to feather his friends’ nests. The Sunday Times has also exposed many dodgy Gupta deals. At the weekend, the Sunday Times published a report alleging that President Jacob Zuma was in talks with Qatar to sell troubled state-owned arms entity Denel. A spokesman for the presidency has denied the report, which first surfaced in the Qatar media. Denel announced in August that it was ending its joint venture with Gupta-linked VR Laser given the negative attention the brand suffered, locally and internationally, reports Fin24. – Jackie Cameron

By Arabile Gumede

South Africa is in talks with Qatar to sell a majority stake in its arms manufacturer Denel SOC Ltd. to the Gulf country, the Sunday Times reported, citing a source it didn’t identify.

President Jacob Zuma is also seeking to sell portions of other struggling state-owned enterprises, including power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and South African Airways SOC Ltd., the newspaper said. The Department of Public Enterprises, which would need to approve the transaction, did not immediately respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment.

Denel AH-2 Rooivalk

Denel was among state entities bailed out this year to prevent a call on its government-guaranteed debt. This list includes South African Airways, the South African Post Office and the South African Broadcasting Corp. which all may require further intervention, the National Treasury said in its mid-term budget report.

Read also: Named & shamed: 10 Eskom, Transnet, Denel directors hired to help Zupta. #GuptaLeaks

Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah is believed to have discussed the proposed acquisition with Zuma during a state visit earlier this month, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the president denied the report. “There was no discussion of the issues” during the minister’s “courtesy call,” Bongani Ngqulunga, a spokesman for the president said in a text message.

Mayihlome Tshwete, a spokesman for National Treasury, says it isn’t aware of any such discussions. He said the treasury has spoken to the Department of Public Enterprises about the matter and the department denies the talks.

Source: Bloomberg

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