South Africa's Zuma tries to sell carbon credits to Russian NGO after Zimbabwe failure

By bne IntelliNews April 23, 2024

Former South African President Jacob Zuma is discussing trading carbon credits with a Russian NGO, facilitated by a new Belarusian entity, according to News24, which describes the politician as having “made a puzzling shift to environmental trade via an opaque organisation with no formal registration”.

It all started in 2023 when the Belarus African Foreign Trade Association (Bafta) – of which Zuma is a board member – attempted to donate 2mn carbon credits to the African Voluntary Carbon Credits Market Forum (AVCCM) in Zimbabwe.

Despite that move, News24 reported on April 22, Bafta has no online footprint or formal registration in Belarus, South Africa or Russia, and “remains shrouded in mystery.”

A third person, described by the publication as “an enigma known only as Mr Du Ross”, has emerged. He, according to the director of the Belarus National Agency of Investment and Privatisation, Dzmitry Krasousky, brought Zuma and Bafta to the attention of the agency.

The carbon credits Zuma is dealing with originated from a Siberian reforestation project, spearheaded by the Russian NGO, the Centre for Environmental Innovation (CEI). When the Zimbabwe deal fell through, Bafta took to negotiating the sale privately, the CEI confirmed to News24.

During this period, a Belarusian address linked to the Jacob G Zuma Foundation surfaced in press statements.

“It is nestled in the remote Vitebsk region of Belarus, a stone's throw from Russia, separated only by Lake Ezerishche,” writes News24.

“The bizarre turn of events has left more questions than answers – with Belarusian, Russian and Zuma's spokespeople mum on the matter.”

The publication added that experts it consulted expressed concern over trading such carbon credits, originating from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol between 2005 and 2012 in Eastern Europe.

“They highlighted the potential risks to the carbon market, especially when transactions involve a controversial figure like Zuma, stressing the importance of the credits’ integrity,” it added.

Zuma led Africa’s most developed economy from 2009 and 2018 when he was removed a year before the scheduled end of his term over corruption allegations, which he rejects.

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