Former President Jacob Zuma “readily opened doors” for the infamous Gupta family to capture South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for their own financial benefit, the state capture commission of inquiry has found.
The inquiry, which was chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, released part IV of its report on Friday (29 April).
‘Gupta scheme to capture Eskom’
“The evidence proves a scheme by the Guptas to capture Eskom, install the Guptas’ selected officials in strategic positions within Eskom as members of the board, the committees of the board and the executives and then divert Eskom’s assets to the Guptas’ financial advantage,” Zondo found in Volume 4 that deals with Eskom.
“Central to the Guptas’ scheme of state capture was President Zuma, who the Guptas must have identified at a very early stage as somebody whose character was such that they could use him against the people of South Africa, his own country and his own government to advance their own business interests and President Zuma readily opened the doors for the Guptas to go into the SOEs and help themselves to the money and assets of the people of South Africa.”
Zondo found that Zuma helped the Guptas by making several appointments that favoured their interests, including the appointment of Brian Molefe as Transnet CEO “after he had discussed the matter with them” and later Eskom CEO.
According to Zondo, the Guptas and their associates also knew in advance about certain appointments or dismissals, such as the firing of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister in 2015.
It is also difficult to explain the perception that “all three people he wanted to appoint as Minister of Finance at different times, namely Mr Des Van Rooyen, Mr Brian Molefe and Mr Gigaba, had one thing in common – that is that, they were all Gupta associates,” he added.
Zuma ‘would do anything for the Guptas’
“It is clear that from quite early in his first term President Zuma would do anything that the Guptas wanted him to do for them,” Zondo wrote.
“It is also quite clear that during President Zuma’s term of office, certain decisions which were supposed to be made within government were made outside of government and not with his party, the ANC, but with the Guptas.”
Zuma has steadfastly denied wrongdoing in state capture allegations. He initially appeared before the inquiry but refused to participate further, claiming Zondo was biased against him.
His defiance of a Constitutional Court order to resume his testimony led to his imprisonment in July last year for contempt of court. He was later released on medical parole.
Zondo’s latest findings are likely to attract dismissive rebuttals from the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which often issues statements on the ex-President’s behalf.