President advised to have nothing to do with former backer....
Mar 20, 2011
THE close relationship between President Jacob Zuma and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, is over.
The two have not seen or spoken to one other since Zuma's inauguration as president on May 9 2009.
Before that, Zuma had publicly supported the convicted fraudster, even visiting him four times while he was in prison.
A senior Zuma aide told the Sunday Times this week: "That was then; this is now."
Shaik spent two years and four months in Westville Prison and in various Durban hospitals before his controversial parole on March 3 2009 owing to a "terminal illness".
He was convicted on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud relating to his relationship with Zuma.
A Sunday Times investigation has established that:
�Zuma last spoke to Shaik before the 2009 election;
�Shaik had expected to be pardoned two years ago after Zuma had become president, but nothing happened;
�Shaik has tried contacting Zuma numerous times since May 9 2009, but to no avail;
�Top ANC leaders have strongly advised Zuma to have nothing to do with Shaik; and
�The president's financial adviser has become increasingly bitter at being abandoned by his former comrade-in-arms, and has complained to senior ANC leaders about being left out in the cold. He now leads a solitary life with little contact from ANC members.
Yesterday, Zuma's spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said there was no relationship at all between the two. Asked to elaborate, he said: "The answer I have given is sufficient."
The president's lawyer, Michael Hulley, rejected "with contempt" claims that Zuma had promised to pardon Shaik.
As to allegations that Zuma had abandoned Shaik, Hulley said: "Because of the demands of the presidency, in particular, and government, in general, many of the president's personal relationships have suffered. The president's schedule simply does not permit him to call on friends and acquaintances, much as he may like to do so, and in Shaik's case, the president has done so as and when his schedule permits."
He said that before Zuma became president, Shaik had rendered support and assistance to him and "the Zuma family, in general, in the conduct of the president's financial affairs".
"As part of this assistance, Shaik made payments for and on behalf of the president in respect of various agreed expenses. At all times, the president understood Shaik to have willingly offered his services, which were graciously accepted in the context of the relationship which existed between the Shaik and Zuma families."
The Sunday Times has established that Shaik now wants nothing more than his pardon - after which he wishes to move overseas, away from the incessant scrutiny of the media and the public.
Yesterday, Shaik declined to comment.
The fraudster is estranged from his wife, Zulheikha, and gets to see his young son, Yasir, several hours a week.
He has been described by associates as frustrated, angry and depressed.
This, they say, contributed to him losing his notorious temper and allegedly attacking a journalist and a fellow worshipper at a Durban mosque in two separate incidents in recent weeks.
His relationship with his brothers is also said to be strained.
Shaik ran almost every aspect of Zuma's financial affairs for almost a decade, bankrolling him and his family.
In April 2008, about six months after being jailed, Shaik applied unsuccessfully to then president Thabo Mbeki for a pardon.
In December 2009, Zuma's office issued a statement saying the president was "considering a number of applications and Shaik's is among them".
It insisted Shaik's "application is not enjoying any special consideration".
Nothing came of the application.
News of the collapse of Shaik's relationship with Zuma follows a dramatic week in which the former businessman was arrested early on Monday and investigated for allegedly violating his parole conditions.
This after the Sunday Times reported how he had allegedly punched and assaulted Mohamed Ismail outside the Masjid al Hilal mosque in Overport, Durban, on Friday last week.
Ismail left the mosque after doctors had called him to attend to his ill five-year-old daughter.
The altercation was apparently sparked because Shaik's vehicle allegedly blocked Ismail's exit.
Two hours after the incident, Ismail said that he and his wife had decided not to lay charges.
Shaik declined to comment on the incident. He was later quoted in a Durban newspaper as asking for a meeting to be arranged so that he and Ismail could "pray in peace and not as enemies".
On Tuesday, prison officials visited the offices of the Sunday Times in Durban and requested contact details for Ismail.
The Sunday Times contacted Ismail, but he rejected the request.
Ismail, who has avoided all calls since Shaik's arrest, said he wanted to be left alone.
On Wednesday, KwaZulu-Natal correctional services spokes-man Hlaziya Mtolo said investigators could not find proof that Shaik had violated his parole, so the former businessman was released.