South Africa


State Capture commission’s 40 questions for Jacob Zuma that have yet to see the light of day

Illustrative image | Sources: Clockwise from left: Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander) | Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Salome Fischer) | Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. (Photo: Gallo Images / Felix Dlangamandla) | President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Deaan Vivier) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: EPA-EFE / MIKE HUTCHINGS / POOL) | Minister for Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo) | Atul Gupta. (Photo: Gallo Images / Business Day / Robert Botha) | Ajay Gupta. (Photo: Gallo Images / Business Day / Martin Rhodes)

With the chief witness seat empty after the serial delinquent refused to turn up again, the commission laid out the 40 areas on which it would have questioned the former head of state.

“One would have thought he [Jacob Zuma] would be the first one to cooperate fully with the commission [because] in the terms of reference signed by him [to establish the commission], he said all organs would be required to cooperate,” said Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as he contemplated yet another non-appearance by the former president, who ignored both a Constitutional Court judgment and a summons to appear before Zondo this week to give evidence.  

Zuma is a serial State Capture inquiry delinquent: he failed to appear twice this year after being summoned and left the commission without permission in November 2020.

Now Zondo will make an application to the Constitutional Court to have Zuma declared in contempt of court and to request that he be sentenced to prison for ignoring a court order. 

Zuma has been implicated in State Capture by more than 40 witnesses in the three years in which the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has heard evidence of grand corruption in South Africa.  

Faced with an empty witness seat, evidence leader Paul Pretorius said, “There is a constitutional duty and a public duty owed to the citizens of this country. Whatever the noise out there… we have a mandate to obey,” he said. The public had a right to know the questions Zuma was being asked to answer even as he refused to account.

“The work of this commission is not about widespread corruption; State Capture is more than that – it would concern a network of relationships inside and outside government. When one puts together all the elements, what do they tell us?” 

Pretorius said that while Zuma’s failure to give evidence would not be able to stop a final report being tabled by Zondo, “there is substantial evidence requiring an answer before you make your final report”, he told the judge.

The 40 areas of questioning and lines of evidence that Pretorius wanted to pursue with Zuma this week are: 

  1. The Gupta family’s ability to divine Cabinet appointments before they happened or to influence those appointments.
  2. The Gupta family’s efforts to gain business advantage from these appointments.
  3. The Gupta family and its related entities’ substantial benefits gained from the relationships with these Cabinet appointments.
  4. The repurposing of state-owned enterprises to redirect state resources into the hands of select individuals.
  5. Zuma’s personal involvement in the business of state entities, where he did not have a direct reporting line.
  6. “Vastly corrupt activities” at Eskom, Transnet, Denel, Prasa and SAA that took resources from these entities and placed them in the hands of private individuals and entities. Was the outcome at these institutions intended or was it coincidental?
  7. Why did the former president involve himself in board and executive appointments at SOEs like Eskom, especially in the final years of his presidency?
  8. Was it a coincidence or intended that ultimate financial benefit flowed to the Gupta family as a result of these board appointments?
  9. About the cash taken to and given away at the Gupta residence.
  10. About the illicit flow of money to influencers in the Gupta circle. Were these random and ad hoc occurrences or part of an organised project to redirect money?
  11. Why was Zuma personally involved in trying to ensure that Siyabonga Gama was appointed as Transnet CEO and was later involved in the appointment of Brian Molefe as Transnet CEO?
  12. Why Zuma was personally involved in the appointment of Dan Mantsha at Denel?
  13. Was the sale of Denel IP to VR Laser Asia (which followed Mantsha’s appointment) a coincidence or part of an intended consequence?
  14. There was a similar pattern of evidence at the passenger rail agency, Prasa. Was Zuma aware of this?
  15. What was Zuma’s knowledge or his action or lack of action on what happened at various state-owned enterprises? Was the outcome intended?
  16. There were substantial attempts to repurpose government to advantage specific individuals, predominantly at the Department of Minerals and Energy and at the Government Communication and Information System. Former minerals and energy minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi had given evidence about his pressure to meet with and favour Gupta family-owned entities. He was removed and replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane. What was the former president’s role in this?
  17. National Treasury came under significant pressure because it finances procurement and was seen as a stumbling block to irregular procurement deals. The former president removed both Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan as ministers of finance who had oversight of Treasury. Were these coincidences?
  18. Why was a nuclear deal, as testified to by Nene, contemplated in the first place?
  19. Why was a ministerial task team, chaired by Zwane, appointed to investigate why banks had closed the Gupta family and related entity accounts?
  20. Why did Zuma attempt to remove the authority for deciding on the national Budget from Treasury?
  21. How did the Gupta family have prior knowledge that Nene would be removed as finance minister?
  22. What are these links and was the purpose to facilitate the eventual outcome (of State Capture)?
  23. Why was Gordhan removed as finance minister while on a trip to London and where did Operation Checkmate (the intelligence report used to axe him) come from? Why was it necessary to change the incumbent of the ministry? Were the outcomes and consequences intended?
  24. Why did Zuma have a personal involvement in the Bain & Co plans to reorganise the SA Revenue Service?
  25. What was Zuma’s role in the illegal landing at Waterkloof of the Gupta family’s private charter plane for a family wedding at Sun City?
  26. Why did Zuma concur when the Waterkloof wrongdoer Bruce Koloane was appointed ambassador to the Netherlands?
  27. What was Zuma’s role at the Department of Communications when pressure was placed on the GCIS to finance through advertising The New Age newspaper owned by the Gupta family?
  28. Was this pressure designed to benefit certain parties?
  29. What was the exact nature of Zuma’s relationship with the Watson family who owned the Bosasa logistics and facilities management company which has been heavily implicated in State Capture?
  30. The former president’s son, Duduzane Zuma, has benefited substantially from his relationship with the Gupta family. Where did the benefits ultimately flow to?
  31. Did Zuma receive regular monthly payments from a project of the State Security Agency as heard in evidence by acting SSA director-general Loyiso Jafta?
  32. Did the Guptas fund the ANC or do favours for the governing party?
  33. Would Zuma have been asked about the use of untraceable cash as a medium of transfer?
  34. In the era of State Capture, where were the defenders of our legal order? Where was Parliament? Where were the various oversight bodies? Where were the law enforcement agencies? Were they deliberately neutered to allow the project of State Capture to continue?
  35. Was it coincidental that the law enforcement agencies failed to prosecute and detect wide-scale corruption or had they been deliberately and substantially weakened? Why were the law enforcement agencies used to target people?
  36. Why were certain people, like the former head of crime intelligence Richard Mdluli, protected?
  37. Why was there such instability at the top leadership level of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions? Was it deliberate, or coincidental?
  38. As president, why did Zuma not do anything when evidence of grand corruption was exposed? Was it neglect, or was it a coincidence?
  39. How did Zuma decide on his appointments to important roles in the law enforcement agencies?
  40. How is it that the State Security Agency came to operate as a private army, as Sydney Mufamadi, the chairperson of the high-level panel investigating the intelligence structures asked the commission? What was Zuma’s role in this? DM

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Nothing much has changed since Ramaphosa is in charge. Cele arresting beach goers, yet ignoring MKs assembling in Nkandla and Zuma showing the Zondo commission the middle finger.

    • William Kelly says:

      Cele the Clown has been very quiet in all of this. Too busy selecting a new hat I suspect.

    • R S says:

      I hate the ANC as much as most people, but to say CR has done nothing is disingenuous. The NPA, SIU, and giving De Ruyter the space to remove 2000 people from Eskom and to do load reduction are a start, even if so much more needs to be done.

      • Paddy Ross says:

        CR is much smarter and canny than many people give him credit for. Be patient and judge him by the final outcome that SA is moving towards. He has been functioning during the last six years entombed in the ANC straightjacket so loved by Duarte and others.

      • Glyn Morgan says:

        Right, CR has done nothing much that is disingenuous. Well, maybe a bit more than “nothing much”. Maybe a heck of a lot! He is in the anc sect so it is a collective thing. Right?

  • Fritz Milosevic Milosevic says:

    Seems that BabaKaDuduzane has decided that sitting in prison for contempt of court, and inciting the ANC mob to storm parliament and try to breakdown an entire society, is better then having to answer these questions. Which he will never be able to answer truthfully. Me thinks he will go to prison and no one will storm anything.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Delusions of being above the law
    Paranoia of being victimised
    Putting loyalists into positions of power for protection
    Originating policy for personal gain
    Inciting mob when finally cornered.
    Does this remind you of anyone?

  • Hans van de Riet says:

    As Zuma has shown so far no regard whatsoever for the laws of this country, why does anyone think that he would ever answer those questions?? Zuma is much too arrogant to be taken seriously as he suffers from a debilitating character disorder and regards himself still untouchable. Most of his followers seem to have the same problem. I fear for the worst for this country with so many powerful people showing the exact same disorder!

  • Chris 123 says:

    So many questions so little time, he will be in the ground before he sees jail. I think a lot of those “where were you questions” apply to our Trojan Horse Ramaphosa as well!

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Who is going to blink first?

  • stan garrun Garrun says:

    A litany of betrayal of his people. Did Zuma not understood the significance and gravity of his actions? (That the acts were crooked he certainly knew). To begin with he agreed to co-operate with the State Capture commission. He seemingly did not comprehend what he would be required to answer for. Talk about entitlement! Talk about privilege. There is much that is crazy here – and collectively so, because these mindsets prevail in so many people who hold respectable positions as well as in those looking on. How deftly social ills are used to justify and deflect from these misdemeanours. How the party continues to enable grand scale delusion and frame alternate reality. Or is it that I simply do not understand the nature of such pervading evil…?

    • David Hirsch says:

      Zuma’s odd physiognomy is often caricatured but not recognized as fetal alcohol syndrome features – smooth philtrum ( groove below the nostrils), low nasal bridge, small eye openings, short nose, epicanthal folds (lateral folds beneath the eye), underdeveloped jaw, small eye openings and so on.
      FAS individuals have difficulty with abstract reasoning, cause and effect reasoning, telling time, memory and behaviour – especially socialisation and independence.
      I don’t think Zuma has ever “understood the significance and gravity of his actions”. A plea of diminished responsibility seems reasonable. The profound guilt lies with the ANC, especially the leadership, but also the members, and all those who colluded – just as Trump is a symptom of a profound malaise in the body politic of the US.

      • Con Tester says:

        If your FAS contention is verified as true and “[a] plea of diminished responsibility seems reasonable,” it raises the pressing question of how such a large crush and throng of ANC members missed the attendant debilities you mention when first they propelled him into power. It beggars belief that his closest associates would have been oblivious of the condition you describe. Alternatively, if, as appears to be the case, Zuma is capable of deliberately concealing or at least consciously downplaying these frailties, it seems to me that he would also command sufficient nous to appreciate fully, if not comprehend properly, the extent and severity of the destruction he has wrought first-hand.

  • Frank van der Velde says:

    All the above questions are rhetorical. If Zuma refuses to answer, it is a clear admission guilt

  • Charles Young says:

    Zuma would obviously rather serve time for being in contempt of the commission than to incriminate himself by answering or by refusing to answer any of those questions and hasten a much more serious set of charges. His spurious legal justification is nothing more than a ploy to avoid exposing himself to the forensic scrutiny of the evidence leaders and to retain his diminished political support. Anything else is legally and politically disastrous for him.

  • Cecil van den Bergh says:

    We have a good saying in Afrikaans: ”n Benoude kat maak benoude spronge!’. Loosely translated to ‘like a cat on a hot tin roof’.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Is Nationalisation Without Compensation a similar item to be used against The People? Pin this one on CR!

  • Johan Buys says:

    The way I understand the Zondo commission, Zuma is not required to testify in order for Zondo to make findings. Much like in a normal criminal trial the accused is not compelled to testify but the court is allowed to draw its own inferences from the accused’s unwillingness to testify.

    At the end of the day, exactly like with Jooste, EVERYBODY knows they are crooks. THEY also know that everybody knows, which for that kind of persona hurts almost as much as prison.

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