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The President's Keepers

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The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison
AuthorJacques Pauw
PublisherNB Publishers
Publication date
29 October 2017
Publication placeSouth Africa
ISBN978-0-624-08303-0 (Paperback)
Followed byOur Poisoned Land 

The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and out of Prison a 2017 book by Jacques Pauw, a South African investigative journalist, about allegedly corrupt and compromised power networks in the South African government under President Jacob Zuma.


In eighteen chapters and an epilogue, the book details the creation and functioning of a "shadow mafia state"[1] created by and surrounding President Jacob Zuma. Pauw makes a number of serious allegations about Zuma, including that he did not pay taxes during his presidency, that he was illegally paid R1 million ($70,000) a month by a private company while president, that he failed to pay back loans, and that he has poor financial acumen.

The book also makes a number of accusations concerning criminal and other misconduct by various associates of Zuma. These include that the Gupta family groomed the children of African National Congress (ANC) politicians to gain political influence and that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's 2017 campaign for ANC president was funded by a cigarette company engaged in corruption. It also contains details of the state capture of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the wasteful creation of a R1-billion (around US$70,000,000) spy network within the State Security Agency (SSA) that allegedly engaged in widespread corruption.


Within four days of the book's publication it was cited in parliamentary questions directed at the president by the opposition Democratic Alliance.[2] On 3 November 2017, the SSA issued a cease and desist letter against Pauw and NB Publishers, arguing that the book contravened the Intelligence Service Act.[3] SARS also stated that they would consider initiating criminal charges against Pauw for publicising confidential tax records.[4] The actions by the SSA and SARS were criticised as censorship by civil society organisations including the Right2Know Campaign[5] and Corruption Watch,[6] as well as by the South African Communist Party.[7] The Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, also cautioned the public against purchasing the book,[8] and the family of SSA head Arthur Fraser said that they would consider taking legal action against Pauw for what they said were inaccuracies in the book.[9]

NB Publishers and various book stores said that they would continue to distribute the book, which they said contained factual information that was in the public interest.[6][10] Indeed, fear that the book would be banned caused a spike in its sales:[1] it sold out of its first print run of 20,000 books within 24 hours of the SSA's cease and desist letter[11] and became an international best seller.[12] Because of the resulting shortage of books, combined with the threat of censorship, a digitally pirated version of the book was widely shared in the week after the cease and desist letter.[13]

A launch of the book on the evening of Wednesday 8 November 2017 was cancelled after a power outage. During the launch, Pauw told attendees that he expected to spend years fighting legal battles.[citation needed] He also said that he had received anonymous death threats.[14] In February 2018, the Hawks searched his home and guesthouse in Riebeek-Kasteel, Western Cape in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation.[15] However, in September of that year, SARS, by then under new leadership, announced that it would drop its litigation against Pauw.[16]

According to audited six-month sales figures, the book sold 193,895 copies, around 26,000 of which were ebooks, by late March 2018. As of May 2018, around 197,000 copies had been sold.[17]


The book won the International Freedom to Publish Award from the Association of American Publishers and received the Nielsen Booksellers' Choice Award.[18]


  1. ^ a b Shange, Naledi (6 November 2017). "Zuma book sales spike as court day looms". Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  2. ^ de Wet, Phillip (3 November 2017). "Zuma hears no evil in Parliament". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  3. ^ "State Security Agency wants Zuma book pulled from stores". Moneyweb. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  4. ^ Phakathi, Bekezela; Mabuza, Ernest (3 November 2017). "'The President's Keepers': SARS to consider laying charges over exposé". Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  5. ^ Nicolaides, Gia (4 November 2017). "R2K slams SSA's threats against Zuma book". Right2Know. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b Bornman, Jan (3 November 2017). "Controversial Zuma book 'will stay on the shelves'". News24. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  7. ^ "SACP slams SSA for trying to censor Jacques Pauw book | Hibiscus Coast Seconds". www.hibiscuscoastseconds.co.za. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Public Protector's 'Don't Buy The President's Keepers' Tweet Taken Out Of Context -- Spokesperson". HuffPost UK. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  9. ^ "The President's Keepers: Arthur Fraser's family considering legal action". eNCA. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  10. ^ NB Publishers (6 November 2017). "President's Keepers: NB Publishers' response to SSA – DOCUMENTS | Politicsweb". www.politicsweb.co.za. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  11. ^ "First 20,000 'The President's Keepers' books sold". www.enca.com. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Jacques Pauw's Zuma Book on International Best Sellers' List". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Pirate copy of President's Keepers goes viral on social media – NEWS & ANALYSIS | Politicsweb". www.politicsweb.co.za. 4 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  14. ^ "The President's Keepers: Death threats won't make Pauw back down". www.enca.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Hawks raid Jacques Pauw's home over 'confidential information'". IOL. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  16. ^ Etheridge, Jenna (7 September 2018). "'I was never scared' - Jacques Pauw after SARS drops litigation". News24. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  17. ^ Pauw, Jacques (20 May 2018). "The President's Keepers: The book that brought the House down". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  18. ^ "Our Poisoned Land: Living in the Shadows of Zuma's Keepers – Jacques Pauw". www.polity.org.za. Retrieved 30 November 2022.