Vladimir Putin’s crowd conjured up a plan to build a R300bn ‘aerotropolis’ in Maritzburg. There was cash to be harvested and Jacob Zuma was on board, but the madcap extravaganza came crashing down one drunken night.
Just five days after President Jacob Zuma signed a memorandum of understanding with President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s intended “cooperation” in South Africa’s planned R1-trillion nuclear-build programme, a motley bunch of Eastern European investors arrived in Durban for a meeting with Zuma.
The delegation was led by a little-known Czech non-profit organisation called the Open Doors of Europe Fund, headed by its president, a Mrs Stanislava Rousova. The main purpose of the fund is purportedly to channel buckets of Russian money for special international projects.
On 14 July 2015 Zuma received the group at John Dube House, the KwaZulu-Natal presidential home, to be briefed about the fund’s grand plan to build a massive US$21-billion (approximately R300bn at the time) “aerotropolis” outside Pietermaritzburg, KZN’s modest capital city.