Qaanitah Hunter, writer of Zuma secret meeting first served the Guptas


Simphiwe Zungu

If you had thought the news coverage around the meeting between ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma was strange, this one takes the cup.

Startling news on the Sunday Times journalist who wrote the story has come to surface.

Qaanitah Hunter, who made waves through her front-page story alleging a secret meeting to oust president Cyril Ramaphosa, first rendered her services to the Gupta family.

Hunter, now an anti-Zuma crusader, was on the Guptas payroll and enjoyed a ‘cosy’ relationship with Atul Gupta. Former staff of the New Age newspaper revealed that Hunter left the paper unceremoniously after the Gupta’s declined to give her the position of deputy editor.

According to The New Age’s editor for business affairs, Jeremy Smith, Hunter’s relationship with the Guptas was smooth.

“The problem came when she demanded more money than all of us and the position of deputy editor on top of that.

When the Guptas refused she threw her toys out of the cot and quit. The next week she joined Tiso Black Star and was pioneering what was called the Gupta emails,” said Smith.

Her pilot project, the ‘Gupta mails’ disappeared from the  Sunday Times’ website shortly after Zuma resigned.

The stories, which were to create the impression that there had been emails between Zuma, the Guptas and members of the executive engaging in corruption have since also disappeared. According to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, no emails relating to Zuma and the Guptas have been admitted as evidence so was Hunter lying in her “expose” about the Gupta emails?

Kerry Andrews who was a sub-editor at The New Age said: “When Qaanitah left she was hurt and vowed to bring down the Guptas. From that day she became a project against the former president and the Gupta family”.

Hunter’s most recent project relates to the Secretary-General of the ANC, ACE Magashule and the former head of state to a secret meeting at the Maharani hotel at Durban’s south beach. When asked if there were secret meetings at their hotel, Maharani’s management said: “We host many people at our hotel be it in our restaurant or as hotel guests however we don’t have secret spaces, our hotel is open for everyone”.

Magashule, who in an interview this week said he met Zuma in a scheduled ‘above board’ meeting has slammed Hunter saying: “which secret meeting can be held at a public hotel with the most recognisable face in South Africa?”.

The ANC youth league in KZN have added their voice to the fray saying: “Qaanitah must not divide our movement because one of the Guptas broke her heart. We’ve all been heartbroken at some point and we’ve moved on. This thing of Stratcom journalists is becoming a norm in South Africa and we will stop it”.

This has again put the credibility of journalists under the microscope, one vocal anti-Gupta campaigner and eNCA “political analyst” Karima Brown was the political editor/deputy editor at the Gupta’s newspaper.

What many do not know is that another Sunday Times journalist and the loudest anti-Zuma crusader Ranjeni Munsamy headed the 2008 campaign ‘friends of Jacob Zuma’.

Last month EFF leader Julius Malema claimed that Munsamy negotiated with him to cause Zuma’s removal so that Pravin Gordhan can take over as head of state. In June a picture of Munsamy hand in hand with ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom went viral.

Last week a Facebook post in Hunter’s name from 2017 circulated social media. In the post, the writer, believed to be Hunter, says: “We are ready to change the regime with our words. A woman scorned is dangerous seven times over”.

When Africa News 24-7 contacted Hunter for an interview to answer against some of the allegations levelled against her she sent laughing emojis and blocked one of our journalists.