JOHANNESBURG - An illegal cigarette smuggler contributed to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's campaign to become ANC leader, contributing branded clothing like caps and t-shirts, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.
The claims are contained in a new book by veteran journalist, Jacques Paauw, The President's Keepers.
Paauw links Adriano Mazzotti - a cigarette manufacturer who previously confessed in an affidavit that his company, Carnillinx, had entered into some corrupt and unlawful transactions in order to drive up business - to the presidential hopeful.
The paper reported that Mazzotti boasted about his relationship with Dlamini-Zuma, posting pictures of them together.
The State Security Agency is said to have been investigating Mazzotti's widespread claims of a close relationship with former State Security Agency minister David Mahlobo. The SSA reportedly warned Dlamini-Zuma about her relationship with Mazzotti, but the former dismissed this because the businessman had not been found guilty of any crimes.
However, the book reveals Mazzotti made several admissions in 2014 when he and his company were being investigated by SARS. Among the crimes he admits to being complicit in are fraud, money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and bribery.
Ironically, while one of Dlamini-Zuma's campaign points revolve around the phrases "radical economic transformation" and "white monopoly capital", all but one of the directors of Carnillinx are white.
Following the Sunday Times article, the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) issued a furious statement saying the paper should keep its "hands off" Dlamini-Zuma, whom the league has endorsed to become party leader in December.
The ANCWL condemned that report as an attempt to discredit Dlamini-Zuma through a staged smear campaign, designed to cast aspersions on its preferred candidate.
"We wish to categorically state that Dr Dlamini-Zuma has had no clandestine and dodgy relations with anybody throughout her political career... (She) has nothing to hide," it said.
At the same time, the MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) described the article as "sewer journalism" and the newspaper as a "fake news pigsty."
The MKMVA said that the photograph picturing Dlamini-Zuma and Mazzotti together is not proof of any kind of relationship.
"(The paper's) opposition to Dr Dlamini-Zuma is driven by the fear of their white monopoly capital (WMC) masters that she will successfully implement radical economic transformation, and
bring an end to their control of the South African economy and their concomitant exploitation of the black majority (especially Africans)," the MKMVA statement reads.
The President's Keepers further details the business relationship between President Jacob Zuma's son, Edward, and an alleged tobacco smuggler. Evidence that Edward Zuma received tens of thousands of rands from the smuggler every month is presented in the book.
The book also claims that President Zuma failed to submit his tax returns for the first five years of his presidency, resulting in SARS' VIP Taxpayer Unit having to beg the president to get his tax affairs in order.
At the same time, the Presidency issued a statement saying Zuma "declared to the relevant authorities all income received and allegations contained in the reports are misleading and are clearly part of the ongoing smear campaigns."