South Africa’s Zuma denies he has $30m of Qaddafi’s cash

Under Zuma, South Africa had vociferously opposed the NATO-led military intervention to oust the Libyan dictator. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2019

South Africa’s Zuma denies he has $30m of Qaddafi’s cash

  • The Sunday Times reported that before he was captured and killed in 2011, Qaddafi had given the funds for safe keeping to Zuma, when he was president of South Africa
  • The paper said Zuma had stashed the money at his home in the southeastern village of Nkandla before moving it to neighboring eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma has denied allegations by a local newspaper that he is in possession of $30 million (€26.7 million) belonging to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The Sunday Times at the weekend reported that before he was captured and killed in 2011, Qaddafi had given the funds for “safe keeping” to Zuma, when he was president of South Africa.
The paper said Zuma had stashed the money at his home in the southeastern village of Nkandla before moving it to neighboring eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland.
“Former president Zuma is not aware of any money directed to his Nkandla home from former president Qaddafi, nor has he ever received funds from Qaddafi,” the ex-president’s foundation said in a statement cited Wednesday by South Africa’s The Star newspaper.
Zuma himself tweeted sardonically on Tuesday that he was surprised to hear that he was keeping $30 million when he was in need of cash to pay for legal bills to fight graft charges.
“Sigh! I owe millions in legal fees.... I now hear that I have been keeping money belonging to my late brother Qaddafi. Where’s this money because His Majesty knows nothing about it?” he tweeted, referring to the king of eSwatini.
Zuma, who was ousted last year over multiple graft scandals, could be liable for the equivalent of $2 million in legal bills.
The eSwatini government spokesman Percy Simelane also refuted the existence of Zuma’s money in his country.
“We are not aware of any money secretly stashed anywhere in eSwatini from former South African President Jacob Zuma belonging to former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi,” Simelane told AFP in Mbabane.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Sunday said “there is no money that we are aware of.
“I have not found any money that belongs to Libyans. If the Libyans make a request for us to investigate this matter, we will.”
Under Zuma, South Africa had vociferously opposed the NATO-led military intervention to oust the Libyan dictator.
It also said Qaddafi should have been handed to the international war crimes court after his capture.


India’s croon jewel: Lata Mangeshkar on turning 91 and acing the Twitter game

Updated 33 min 43 sec ago

India’s croon jewel: Lata Mangeshkar on turning 91 and acing the Twitter game

  • Legendary singer speaks to Arab News about her career spanning 75 years and a life that has ‘given her much to be grateful for’

PATNA, India: On Monday, as Lata Mangeshkar turns 91, India’s most accomplished and acclaimed playback singer says she will “continue to sing until her last breath.”

“Even today, I feel like a student of music. I have so much to learn when I compare myself to the great musicians of our country. I will sing until my last breath. There is no retirement for an artist,” Mangeshkar said during an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Born in 1929 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Mangeshkar moved to Mumbai, Maharashtra with her family and four siblings — Meena Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar — in 1945.

After recording her first Hindi song for a film titled Aap Ki Seva Mein in 1947, she gained prominence when, at the age of 20, she regaled audiences with Aayega Aanewala in the film Mahal two years later.

“Then there was Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya from Mughal-e-Azam. Audiences would throw coins on the screen when that song came on,” she said.

To date, in a career spanning 75 years, she has recorded more than 30,000 songs in 35 Indian and foreign languages — including Malaysian, English and Nepalese — and earned a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in the process.

But remind her about her achievements, and she shrugs it off with habitual modesty. 

“There have been many talented singers before and after me (such as) Noor Jehanji, Shamshad Begumji, Geeta Duttji before me, and my sister Asha who were all extremely talented. Among the contemporary voices, I like Alka Yagnik, Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan,” she said.

Nearly 60 biographies have been written about the legendary singer, but she has not authored any herself. The platform where she does unleash her creative writing skills is Twitter.

With more than 14.6 million followers since her social media debut in 2010, the nonagenarian says she turns to Twitter to “stay in touch with friends” and has rarely forgotten to commemorate a colleague’s death or birth anniversary with a tweet on occasion.

“It’s the least we can do. We owe it to the entertainment industry. Earlier, we could pick up the phone and talk to one another. The only option I have is to meet them on social media,” she said.

And while there are no “fixed hours” for her time spent on the social media platform, she tweets when she has “something to say.”

“Otherwise, I stay away. Social media is addictive, and I advise more personal contact than virtual,” she added.

While the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing lockdown across India since March this year meant restriction on movement, Mangeshkar said that it did not derail her offline schedule.

After a “severe” lung infection last year, and based on doctor’s orders, she now leads a quiet, secluded life at her home in South Mumbai.

“The doctors have severely curtailed all my activities, including movie-watching,” she said, adding that she enjoys listening to music, as long as they are not her songs.

“I don’t listen to my songs. If I did, I’d find a hundred mistakes in my singing. Even in the past, once I finished recording a song, I was done with it,” she said.

This, however, was not the case for several Indian actresses, from Madhubala in the 1950s to Sridevi in the 1980s, who insisted on Mangeshkar singing for their onscreen personas. 

The supreme songstress has sung for five generations of Bollywood heroines, but ask her which actress did most justice to her voice on-screen and she replies after a pause: “That’s a tough one because each heroine brought something special to my songs. But I’d have to go with Nutan. She was a singer herself, and when she emoted my songs, she sang along. The way she performed on Mann Mohana Bade Jhothe (Seema) is exemplary. Jaya Bachchan is also one of my favorites. I think the way she emoted to Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika) added a lot to the song’s enduring popularity.”

And her career-defining song?

“It would have to be Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon (a patriotic song). No matter where I go, people ask about it, and some even ask me to sing it for them,” she said, before considering the question of her “lasting legacy” to the world.

“I honestly don’t know, but if I’ve received so much love for so long, I must’ve done something right.”

Borrowing a few lines from one of her popular songs, she seals off her birthday advice with a message for her fans: “Light one lamp to another and let the love flow. We are going through the worst possible phase in the history of civilization due to the coronavirus. Be kind and generous to those who are less privileged than you. Now is the time to stop being tight-fisted.”