South Africa’s Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has handed the final part of a report of an investigation into corruption during the presidency of Jacob Zuma to President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Over nearly four years, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, headed by Zondo, heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses and examined thousands of documents about graft during Zuma’s two terms, between 2009 and 2019.
“State capture was an assault on our democracy and violated the rights of every man, woman and child in this country,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said he would submit a detailed plan to parliament within in four months to outline what he plans to do with the commission’s report.
“The report is far more than a record of widespread corruption, fraud and abuse; it is also an instrument through which the country can work to ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again,” Ramaphosa said.
“I don’t want to make anybody think that this report is all you need to rid South Africa of state capture or to make sure that state capture never happens again, but I do believe that it will, the recommendations that have been made, if they are implemented will make a significant contribution to that goal,” Zondo said.
The final part of the report is 1,824 pages long. It includes findings on South Africa’s domestic intelligence agency known as the State Security Agency, which was allegedly used to go after Zuma’s political foes during his tenure.
The final chapters also deals with evidence given by Ramaphosa during the commission’s hearings. The president said he hadn’t seen the conclusion the commission made about his testimony before accepting the report.
“He could have made a negative finding against me, which I will accept,” Ramaphosa said.
His statement came after the commission missed a a deadline to wrap up its work.
Opposition parties questioned the delay and criticised communication between Zondo and Ramaphosa over delay.
“We’ve dealt with each other with a great deal with integrity; not for once ever wanting to discuss the substance of the work that the chief just was doing, not for once even to disucss the evidence that I present to the commission,” Ramaphosa said.
Central to the Commission’s work was the suggestion that Zuma’s associates, the Gupta family, won control of much of the state and its finances.
Born in India, brothers Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta moved to South Africa in the early 1990s.
Through their business ventures, they became close to the African National Congress, particularly with Zuma and his family.
The Commission found they had significant access to Zuma during his presidency.
They allegedly influenced his political decisions, including ministerial appointments, staffing at the various state-owned enterprises, and rearrangement of the revenue service to advance their financial interests.
They left South Africa for Dubai shortly after Zuma was forced to resign over corruption allegations against him and the Guptas.
Two of the brothers, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, were arrested in Dubai earlier this month.
They were taken into custody after an Interpol red notice was issued, and Dubai police was working with South African authorities on extradition.
The Gupta family has constantly denied any wrongdoing.
In an earlier report the Commission already recommeded that law enforcement agencies further investigate Zuma with a view to possible prosecution for corruption.
The former president dismissed the Commission he had set up.
At an initial appearance at the commission in 2019, he said: “I have been vilified and alleged to be the king of corruption.”
He ignored numerous summonses to appear before the Commission again.
Last year the country’s Constitutional Court found him guilty of contempt for his refusal to appear at the Commission again and sentenced him to 15-month in prison.
Zuma’s jailing in July sparked a series of violent protests and looting in which more than 350 people died.
He was released on medical parole, but a court has since ordered him back to jail. An order his legal team was appealing.
State capture is a South-African term that refers to how private individuals and companies have illegally influenced state institutions to do their bidding.
The Commission also recommended that law-enforcement agencies investigate several former executives of state-owned companies, ex-ministers, and some current members of Ramaphosa’s cabinet.
ANC chairperson and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said he would be taking the state capture report on judicial review. The Commission found he had corrupt dealings with a services company, Bosasa, which paid for upgrades to his home when he was secretary-general of the ANC.
Judge Zondo said there would be “no scarcity” of people wanting to challenge the Commission’s work.
He said that was one of the reasons the release of the final report was delayed.
He wanted to ensure the “proper completion of the conclusion of the report.”