/ 20 June 2019

Key allegations levelled against Zuma at the Zondo commission

​Former president Jacob Zuma.
?Former president Jacob Zuma has been invited to appear before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP)

Former president Jacob Zuma has been invited by the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture to appear next month. Peter Pedlar, he commission’s acting secretary reportedly sent a letter to Zuma’s lawyer, Lugisani Mantsha, urging Zuma to respond by no later than June 12.

Since the beginning of the inquiry — headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — in August 2018, Zuma has been implicated in a number of testimonies including those of ministers, officials from state-owned enterprises and former members of Parliament.

The Mail & Guardian looks at the allegations that have been levelled against Zuma thus far.

Vytjie Mentor

On August 27 2018, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor was asked by the Zondo commission to recount how she was offered to be the public enterprises minister by the Gupta family in 2010 in exchange for cancelling the South African Airways route to India.

The offer was made in the best interest of India-based Jet Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

Mentor said that she was at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold when she was offered the job and Zuma was in a different room. Mentor did make mention the incident prior to her testimony. She first revealed the alleged Gupta bribe in a Facebook post back in 2016 in which she wrote: “But they had previously asked me to become Minister of Public Enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them. I refused and so I was never made a Minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonwold. [sic]”

Mentor also told the commission about her controversial 2010 state trip to China. She said that the former president sent two indian men to fetch her from her hotel, but she declined as she found it odd that he wanted to meet her in a foreign country. She further added that she was wary of Zuma’s reputation with women.

Mentor said in 2017, that Zuma tried to make sexual advances towards her when he was deputy president.

READ MORE: #StateCaptureInquiry: Mentor was too scared to meet with Zuma in China

Themba Maseko

Later that same month, Themba Maseko, the former head of Government Communications and Informations Systems (GCIS), testified about the involvement of Zuma in the placement of government advertisements in the Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age.

Maseko had previously alleged that he had received a phone call from Zuma in 2010, asking him to aid the Gupta brothers in placing government advertisements in the Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age. Maseko further alleged that Zuma asked him to “help” the Gupta family. Maseko was interviewed by former public protector Thuli Madonsela while she was compiling the ‘State of Capture’ report.

In the interview with Madonsela, Maseko said that Ajay Gupta had threatened to have him “sorted out” should he not cooperate with his demand. The Gupta patriarch had allegedly told Maseko that he could have him replaced with someone who would be willing to cooperate.

Maseko was replaced by self-proclaimed Zuma loyalist Mzwanele Manyi in 2011.

Nhlanhla Nene

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene testified before the commission in October 2018, where he detailed how members of Zuma’s Cabinet became hostile towards him after he refused to approve a controversial nuclear deal.

He detailed how the R1.6-trillion nuclear deal would ultimately cost him his job.

Nene said preparations for the nuclear deal got underway in 2011. In 2013, the department of energy drafted a feasibility study on it. Nene viewed the costs as “astronomical” and was wary of the financial impact the deal would have on the country.

In 2014, it was announced that South Africa and Russia had signed an intergovernmental framework agreement, which paved the way for a nuclear deal.

However, Nene was still against the deal as he feared that it may have compromised the economy.

In 2015, at a BRICS meeting, Zuma allegedly scolded Nene for not having finalised financial details of the deal.

“Mr Zuma said he was not happy that I was not doing what I was supposed to have done a long time ago so that he could have something to present when he meets President Putin for their one-on-one meeting,” Nene told the commission.

Nene’s axing and the appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister coincided with the night the nuclear deal was approved by Cabinet.

READ MORE: #StateCaptureInquiry: Zuma Cabinet members turned against Nene

Barbara Hogan

Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan testified in November 2018 and alleged that Zuma meddled in the appointment of executives in state-owned entities following his election as president in 2009.

She claimed that Zuma attempted to convince the Transnet board to appoint Siyabonga Gama as the company’s chief executive.

She said that the former president also tried to “install” Jacob Maroga as the Eskom CEO in 2009. She added that Zuma tried to stall the resignation of Maroga when the Eskom board had already accepted his resignation.

Angelo Agrizzi

When the former Bosasa chief of operations, Angelo Agrizzi, testified before the commission and implicated many officials, Zuma’s name was dropped yet again. He accused Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson of giving Zuma R300 000 bribes every month in order to facilitate legislative changes that would allow the Falcon Oil and fracking project to take place in the Karoo.

Agrizzi also said that Watson planned to lobby Zuma to hire a new national director of public prosecutions. Watson was hopeful a new director of prosecutions would be lighter on Bosasa after the National Prosecuting Authority had investigated them.

Rajesh Sundram

The latest person to drop Zuma’s name before the commission was former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram. In his testimony, he said that although Duduzane Zuma was a shareholder in the now defunct news channel, his father was briefed on a day-to-day basis.

He said that Zuma was particularly interested in setting ANN7 apart from eNCA, which he felt showed him and the government in a negative light. Sundaram told the commission that he was even given a codename at the station. He was known as “number 9”.