CAPE TOWN — Even if you don’t follow political developments with the daily addiction us newshounds do, you’ll be familiar with the dominant South African narrative of what happened during the Chief Zuptoid, Jacob Zuma’s debilitating rule as President. What you probably haven’t heard is exactly what a former victim of State Capture and now highly influential reformist cabinet minister, Pravin Gordhan is going to tell the Nugent Commission. His bombshell prepared testimony has been leaked to/obtained by the media. If ever there was further authentication needed of the breath-taking arrogance, corruption and impunity that resulted from the capture of virtually all institutions of accountability, Gordhan’s ‘tell-all’ contribution does the job. In capturing the State for their own and a select band of shady accomplices’ sole benefit, Zuma and his minions, fired, shifted or replaced anybody who got in the way. If they resisted, as Gordhan and other whistle-blowers did, the intelligence and prosecution services and any pliant media were ruthlessly set on them. Had the remaining courageous journalists, our courts and the Constitution not been available as instruments, the outcome would have done the plot of a dark science fiction novel proud. Thankfully, there were a few good men and women. – Chris Bateman
(Bloomberg) – Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan directly implicated Jacob Zuma in being part of an orchestrated campaign to loot billions of rand in taxpayer funds and decimate state institutions during his almost nine-year tenure as president.
Gordhan, who now oversees state companies, made the allegations in a statement to a judicial panel that’s investigating claims that members of the Gupta family exploited their close relationship with Zuma to influence cabinet appointments and raid public coffers — a process known as state capture. Zuma, who quit in February under pressure from the ruling African National Congress, and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.
Gordhan, who is due to appear before the commission later this month, said his statement had been leaked to the media and declined to comment further. Bloomberg News was among several news organizations that obtained a copy.
- Gordhan revealed that he served for eight years in an administration that was misled, lied to and abused, so that state funds could be used for the benefit of a few families and individuals.
- The minister said he was the target of a campaign that appeared aimed at forcing him to quit as finance minister, and he was subjected to harassment by law enforcement agencies and some media houses.
- State capture became a sophisticated scheme that saw honest public servants being dismissed or sidelined, and created a climate of impunity in respect of crime and corruption, Gordhan said. Zuma repeatedly changed his cabinet, the boards of state companies and the management of government institutions in order to take control of them, according to the minister.
- Those entities were then plundered without any risk of those responsible being prosecuted, he said. Zuma ignored usual processes, including consulting with the cabinet, when he appointed his close ally Tom Moyane as head of the national tax agency in 2014.
- Moyane made serious allegations against Gordhan and refused to be accountable to him, while Zuma did nothing to intervene in their deteriorating relationship. The former president pressured members of his administration to push through a deal to buy new nuclear plants from Russia but encountered resistance from Gordhan and the National Treasury, which insisted on properly evaluating the true cost and risks. The cabinet eventually approved the nuclear program, but it was derailed by a lawsuit filed by civil-rights groups.