Chief Justice not pulling any punches
Today the State Capture Commission provided us with another detailed, damning report on our government, the ANC and the business people they encouraged to loot. It is Part 4 and at least one more report is expected.
Again, it contains information that broadly has been very well known, much of it for years, but that was wilfully ignored by those who were responsible for taking action. Again, it shows clearly the organised, widespread, deliberate and shameless nature of these criminal activities. But the Commission’s reports cannot be ignored: this is the Deputy Chief Justice – now the Chief Justice – who has heard the evidence, considered it, and made his findings.
We note this important comment in particular, which CJ Zondo makes regarding Zuma’s role in the attempt by the Guptas to capture Treasury:
“There are no words to describe this conduct on President Zuma’s part except to say that he must have been determined to give the Guptas direct access to the nation’s Treasury to hand the control of our National Treasury to the Guptas before he left office. Was this the same man that stood twice in front of the people of South Africa and took an oath and said:
‘I Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, swear/solemnly affirm that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa… I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that may harm it.’
“Yes, this was the same man.”
This concludes what we as South Africans knew all along: Zuma put himself before anything or anyone else in the country and he did not shy away when he was handing the country’s assets to the Guptas.
The report implicates the ANC too, detailing how EOH paid millions of rand to the ANC to obtain tenders and criticising the party for standing by and watching state capture.
The Zondo report is scathing on a number of prominent people, some still in powerful positions, such as former Free State MEC and later Minister Mosebenzi Zwane (OUTA complained about him to Parliament’s ethics committee, which did nothing), former Transnet and Eskom executives Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe, former Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko, former Minister of Public Enterprises Lynn Brown, and the business people greedy for tenders who paid off politicians and ANC office bearers.
A significant finding is that the e-mail “BusinessMan>firstname.lastname@example.org” did belong to Gupta associate Salim Essa. Thus former Minister Brown, Eskom board member Ben Ngubane and Koko were following instructions from Essa, including Essa’s proposals regarding the appointments of board members for Eskom, Denel and Alexcor.
We welcome the recommendations for criminal investigations.
OUTA has repeatedly called for action against these people. From 2017 to 2020, OUTA opened 20 criminal complaints at various police stations, relating to allegations of state capture and abuse of power, against individuals including Singh, Molefe, Zwane and Eskom board members. The SAPS failed to address these. In June 2017 we handed a detailed report to Parliament on the evidence against Zuma, the Guptas and their accessories.
Our government and Parliament knew exactly what was going on, but chose to do nothing.
The report also criticises the ANC:
“The ANC and the ANC Government should be ashamed that this happened under their watch. The question that the people of South Africa are entitled to ask is: where was the ANC as the Guptas took control of important SOEs such as Transnet, Eskom and Denel? Where were they? What were they doing? Were they aware of everything but lacked the courage to stop President Zuma and his friends, the Guptas, in what they were doing? Were they looking the other way?”
This Commission has been worth every cent we have spent on it. It has cost less than our government spends on VIP protection for themselves in a single year.
There should be no more excuses from the National Prosecuting Authority.
The Zondo reports are essential reading for South Africans. Do not close your eyes.
OUTA will study the Zondo reports and comment further in due course.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA's Portfolio Manager for State Capture, Rudie Heyneke, is here.