The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, also known as the Zondo Commission of Inquiry or Zondo Commission, is a public inquiry launched by the government of Jacob Zuma, in January 2018, to "investigate allegations of state capture, corruption, fraud and other allegations in the public sector including organs of state" in South Africa.
|Date||21 August 2018- (in progress)|
|Location||Johannesburg, South Africa|
In setting up the Zondo commission, the president was implementing the recommendations by the public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela. In 2016, Madonsela launched an investigation into state capture after receiving a formal complaint from Stanslaus Muyebe, a Catholic priest. In her report, following the investigation, she recommended that the president assemble a commission of inquiry into state capture. The Zondo Commission is headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Most testimony given to the inquiry has focused on allegations of corruption during the administration of former President Jacob Zuma. Due to the volume of testimonies to be heard as well as restrictions associated with COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, the Zondo Commission final report deadline was extended to March 2021.
A range of testimonies were given on a number of corruption and state capture related issues such as:
- Accusations of state capture by the Gupta brothers, including, through their media enterprises, contracts that companies associated with the brothers received from state-owned companies, and controversy over a Air Force Base Waterkloof incident.
- Corruption and maladministration at the Vrede Dairy Project
- Issues relating to lobbying to protect the pay-TV monopoly of MultiChoice.
- Payment of kickbacks to secure government contracts by EOH Group
- Corruption within municipalities
- Accusations of maladministration and corruption at state enterprises and institutions such as:
Many individuals have been summoned to testify before the Commission, including former president Jacob Zuma and other current and former government ministers and officials, as well as various business executives. Those required to testify include Ben Ngubane, Mosebenzi Zwane, Barbara Hogan, Mcebisi Jonas, Des van Rooyen, Nomvula Mokonyane, Vytjie Mentor, Pravin Gordhan, Sibongile Sambo, Job Mokgoro and Angelo Agrizzi, among many others.
Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi made national headlines when he testified to the commission that the company systematically gave substantial bribes to South African government officials to ensure that the company received government contracts and was not investigated. Agrizzi's testimony implicated then President Zuma, notable government minister Nomvula Mokonyane, chairperson of South African Airways Dudu Myeni, and ANC politician Gwede Mantashe.
Former president Jacob Zuma gave testimony at the hearing regarding his role in state capture and corruption activities during his presidency on 16 July 2019. On the first day of his testimony he claimed that there was a foreign-backed conspiracy against him and that some of those testifying against him were apartheid-era spies. Zuma accused the Zondo Commission of being a tool to end his political career. Zuma admitted to having a friendly relationship with the Gupta brothers, but denied engaging in any corrupt activities. Following the first day of Zuma's testimony, the Democratic Alliance accused Zuma of trying to play the victim and misleading the commission.
During Zuma's second day of testimony, he claimed that he was the target of a suicide bombing assassination attempt, the South African Police Service later stated that they were unaware of any such event taking place. Zuma controversially accused senior ANC member Ngoako Ramatlhodi of being a spy involved in a conspiracy against him. During the third day of Zuma's testimony he accused the commission of being biased against him and threatened to withdraw his cooperation. On the fourth day, Zuma's legal team announced that it would be withdrawing from the commission, but later the same day announced that he had changed his mind and would return to give additional testimony at a later date.
Following Zuma's testimony to the commission, South African media speculated that the chances of Zuma being later charged and convicted for crimes committed during his administration or for giving false testimony to the commission had increased.
Zuma's legal team attempted to get Judge Zondo to recuse himself from the commission accusing Zondo of bias and having a supposed prior friendship with Zuma. Judge Zondo rejected the recusal request.
A little over 16 months after Zuma first appeared before the commission criminal charges were laid against him for walking out of the commission without permission and refusing to give testimony. This was preceded by a long period in which Zuma tried to avoid appearing before the commission through legal moves and arguments in the alleged hope that the commission would conclude before he would have to appear before it. This approach was dubbed as Zuma's Stalingrad defence strategy.
Dudu Myeni, a close associate of president Zuma, was implicated illegal activities when she was chairperson of South African Airways. When Myeni appeared before the commission on 5 November 2020 she repeatedly revealed the identity of a secret state witness, in violation of the terms set by the Commission. The witness had received anonymity as the commission had reason to believe that the witness's life would be at risk if their identity was made public. This resulted in Judge Zondo requesting that criminal charges be placed on Myeni.
- Website of the Commission of Inquiry
- TimesLive coverage of the commission
- Eyewitness News coverage of the commission
- Daily Maverick coverage of the commission
- News24 coverage of the commission
- Betrayal of the Promise Report.
- ‘No Room To Hide: A President Caught in the Act’ Report
- OUTA’s State Capture Portfolio
- Parliamentary Monitoring Group (22 June 2018). "Judicial Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture (Call for evidence/information)". pmg.org.za. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
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- "Transnet finance boss Anoj Singh 'had no authority' to appoint Gupta-linked firm". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
- Smit, Sarah. "Zondo commission: Eskom's Gupta contracts under the spotlight". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
- "Zondo commission hears how Indian airline pushed for Mumbai route". citizen.co.za. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
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- Smit, Sarah. "Vrede farmers lost trust in Mkhwebane, Zondo commission hears". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2019-07-29.
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- "Angelo Agrizzi set to give more explosive testimony at Zondo commission". BusinessLIVE. Retrieved 2019-06-08.
- "Jacob Zuma backtracks on decision to withdraw from state capture inquiry". News24. 2019-07-19. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
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- "Mantashe wants to testify after Bosasa security upgrade claims, offers to take journos to his homes". News24. 2019-02-02. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
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- Ntsabo, Mihlali. "Zuma accuses Zondo of being unfair as testimony halted on day 3". ewn.co.za. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
- "Jacob Zuma retracts his withdrawal from state capture probe". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
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- "Former SAA exec says Dudu Myeni asked staff to 'do illegal things'". Fin24. 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
- "Myeni identifies Mr X despite Zondo anonymity ruling, claims she did not mean to breach rules". Fin24. 2020-11-06. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
- "Raymond Zondo asks commission to lay criminal complaint against Dudu Myeni". BusinessLIVE. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
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