Saturday, 17 November, 2018

S.Africa inquiry opens into alleged graft under former president

Bloomberg Bloomberg
Orlando Vargas | 23 August, 2018, 11:43

It will examine claims of fraud in the public sector during former President Jacob Zuma's time in office.

"The ANC urges its members and others who are summoned to appear before the Commission to offer their full cooperation to the Commission, so that the country can deal with this hard chapter", the party said.

The commission, which is being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has outlined nine terms of reference throughout its inquiry.

An earlier report by a watchdog detailed allegations that Zuma helped the Gupta family win preferential contracts with state companies, including huge mining deals, and were even able to choose cabinet ministers.

Mr Zuma was ordered to set up the commission by the high court last December following a report by the public protector, South Africa's anti-graft body.

"At the heart of the investigation is whether outsiders influenced government or state-owned enterprises for selfish gain", said the commission's lead lawyer Paul Pretorius on the inquiry's opening day.

The scandal-hit Zuma had resigned in February after he faced massive furore from his own ruling African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers over corruption charges.

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The inquiry will see testimonies from various key witnesses, including former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor.

Zondo has spoken about the non-participation of the members of the public in coming forward with information regarding state capture.

The 76-year-old former head of state still commands considerable support within his party, the ANC.

Legal experts say they hope the commission of inquiry into state capture will reveal specific details about the extent of alleged corruption and abuse of power at government entities now that politicians will have to testify under oath.

Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

The Sunday Times reported that Zuma has been asked to give evidence in person at the inquiry about the alleged corrupt relationship with members of the controversial family.

Michael Hellens SC, representing Ajay Gupta at the commission, told Zondo he has instructions to act on the allegations made by Mentor and former government spokesperson Themba Maseko.

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