Week in review: Koko at Zondo; ANC vs Magashule; SA professor awarded international prize; Google sued

By Melani Nathan 

  • At the Zondo Commission, the controversial Koeberg steam generator project that saw Eskom taken to court by Westinghouse after its award to then French company Areva was at the centre of discussions on former Eskom group CEO Matshela Koko. Koko said that a witch-hunt is the reason he was eventually pushed out of the company. Koko has been implicated by four witnesses, including Suzanne Daniels, the former group secretary. Daniels testified that Koko invited her to a meeting at Melrose Arch and introduced her to Salim Essa, the Gupta’s lieutenant and business partner. Koko was present and unfazed as Essa asked Daniels for advice on how to suspend four Eskom executives, allegedly to make way for officials who would be more compliant to the Gupta family takeover of multimillion-rand contracts. He also stands accused of awarding a R1bn tender to his daughter’s company, Impulse Trading. He reportedly sent sensitive information relating to tender deals to an account registered to a certain ‘Business Man’, now believed to be Essa. Koko has denied all allegations. For more on state capture, read Norma Mngoma, Malusi Gigaba’s wife, spills beans on Gupta cash; demonstrates hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.
  • Monday was the deadline for Zuma’s response to the Zondo Commission’s appeal. Zuma has dodged the Commission on several occasions, refusing to answer key questions during the five times he appeared between 2018 and last year. This year, he cited Covid-19 and preparation for his corruption trial as reasons for why he couldn’t attend the state capture inquiry. When he finally agreed to appear, he filed an application for Judge Ray Zondo to recuse himself. When his recusal application was thrown out of court, Zuma abruptly left proceedings. As a result, Zondo went to the Constitutional Court to have Zuma appear by legal order. “I do not believe that Mr Zuma will defy an order of this court. Mr Zuma’s failure or refusal to appear before the Commission totalled no less than five weeks of scheduled hearing time. This is apart from the dates of 16 to 20 November 2020, which were also lost as a result of Mr Zuma’s belated application for recusal and his walk out of the Commission’s proceedings,” said Mosala. The Constitutional Court will hear the Zondo Commission’s application to summon Zuma to appear and account for state capture on 29 December.
  • In early November an arrest warrant was issued for Ace Magashule relating to charges of fraud and money laundering. Magashule is accused of fraud in connection with an asbestos roofing project when he was the Premier of the Free State. Magashule has stubbornly refused to step down despite an ANC policy that requires members to leave their posts when facing criminal investigation. The ruling party’s Integrity Commission says the ANC must be more decisive and enact an August resolution to remove Magashule from office.
  • South African epidemiologist and chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim has been awarded the John Maddox prize, which honours those who have shown courage and integrity in standing up for science and scientific reasoning.
  • Ten US states have sued Google, accusing the search giant of running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly and enlisting rival Facebook in an alleged deal to rig ad auctions in an arrangement that was code-named after “Star Wars” characters, according to The Wall Street Journal. The complaint, filed in US District Court in Texas, alleges that Facebook emerged in 2017 as a powerful new rival to Google, challenging the Alphabet. unit’s established dominance in online advertising. The lawsuit claims that Google responded by initiating an agreement in which Facebook would curtail its competitive moves, in return for guaranteed special treatment in Google-run ad auctions. Subscribe to BizNews Premium, here, to enjoy full access to The Wall Street Journal.

 

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