Considering that so many allegations swirl around him, the appearance of one of the key figures in the Gupta enterprise ought to have been a pivotal moment in the work of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in unravelling the state-capture business. Duduzane Zuma, scion of the man who ruined South Africa, appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture this week.
It says something of the long-winded nature of this particular commission of inquiry — and the ostensibly longer-winded nature of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) investigations — that we are left, days later, lifting our hands to the greying Johannesburg skies, asking the same thing about the weather as we are about state capture investigations: “What more will it take to see something actually happening here?”
It has been nearly three years since former public protector Thuli Mandonsela released her report into allegations of state capture by Messrs. Gupta and Zuma. Since then, Zuma was forced out of the Union Buildings before he was ready to leave, and his preferred candidate to take up residence there was beaten by Cyril Ramaphosa. But only just. His allies continue to have influential roles in government, in state-owned enterprises, in the intelligence service and in Luthuli House.
The moment of relief, during which we had persuaded ourselves that the worst had been prevented, has long passed. And although the establishment of the commission of inquiry into state capture, like the other commissions that have looked into maladministration at the South African Revenue Service and the Public Investment Corporation, was the first glimmer of us moving on, little else has happened. And though the NPA reiterates that all is well, and arrests may soon follow, the promise of the interregnum is fast running out.
For a man who is alleged to have aided and abetted said ruin of the country, Zuma the younger mimicked the appearance of Zuma the elder at the commission — looking rather untroubled. Perhaps he has good reason to face the deputy chief justice with such equanimity — he certainly does not seem to face any threat of arrest, or indeed prosecution any time soon.
And so it was that Duduzane, who has for so long been alleged to have been central to the plot of the Gupta family to carve up parts of South Africa for themselves, sat before the commission this week, and said little useful to excuse him from any suspicion of wrongdoing. Instead, one of his central arguments — that Madonsela had not allowed him an opportunity to respond to allegations made against him — was immediately debunked.
Duduzane lied, Madonsela said, because she had even offered to fly to Dubai to speak to him. This lie is very similar to the one told by his father about his own opportunity to respond to Madonsela. We may as well chalk up the tendency to bend this particular truth to the luck of the gene pool.
And although he did not entertain us with yarns about the long shadows of spooks haunting his family, as his father had, Duduzane, like Zuma the elder, appeared to believe that he was actually above the commission. He was smug. And he was also unrepentant. He has done nothing wrong, he said.
The skies over Johannesburg have eked out the first rains of the highveld summer. But we are still waiting for justice.