South Africa


State Capture Report in crunch quotes: From ‘Negligence, incompetence, corrupt intent’ to creating ‘a culture of fear’

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Photo: Gallo Images/Financial Mail/Freddy Mavunda)

For anyone seeking to understand what happened to South Africa during the Zuma years, the Zondo Commission’s first report is essential reading. But not many will have the appetite to wade through its 874 pages. Here’s your cheat sheet: the findings of Judge Raymond Zondo in key quotes from the report.

On former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni: “She proceeded, through a mixture of negligence, incompetence and deliberate corrupt intent, to dismantle governance procedures at SAA, create a climate of fear and intimidation and make a series of operational choices at SAA that saw it decline into a shambolic state.”

On the costs of State Capture: “Those costs do not just lie in the millions of rands that are lost to the taxpayer. They also lie in the broken careers of people who tried to resist its stranglehold… Finally, the costs lie in Cabinet decision-making that was motivated not by what was in the best interests of a state-owned entity but by the personal preferences of a President.”

On Myeni’s dictatorial conduct: “It evidences a level of disregard for the expertise of others that calls into question Ms Myeni’s fitness to hold any position on the board of an SOE.”

Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni testifiying over Zoom at the State Capture Commission. (Photo: Greg Nicolson)

On SAA whistle-blower Cynthia Stimpel: “Whistle-blowers like Ms Stimpel are the final defence against corruption and state capture taking hold in SOEs. Without people like her, who are willing to resist the pressures being applied on them to bend the rules, the chance that these illegal activities at SOEs will be exposed reduces considerably.”

On former SAA Technical (SAAT) procurement head Nontsasa Memela: “Ms Memela’s submissions display a complete lack of candour and a singular failure to accept any responsibility for her actions.”

On former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana: “I am satisfied, having listened to Ms Kwinana’s evidence, that many of the situations she would regard as impractical are situations which most people would find practical.”

On SOE outsourcing: “One of the themes that has emerged in the evidence presented to the Commission is the use of external service providers when there were already ably qualified and skilled staff working within the various SOEs. This use of duplicate external service providers was often a means by which corruption was allowed to flourish within the SOEs.”

On Myeni’s response to the Zondo Commission: “Ms Myeni’s entire approach to the Commission was consistent with a witness eager not to be exposed to probing questioning.”

On Zuma’s misuse of the State Security Agency: “The Commission heard extensive evidence about the irregular redeployment of state security resources for the benefit of former president Zuma. This process of redeploying state resources from their proper and legitimate scope was at the expense of the public they were required to serve.”

The evidence that the Commission heard in regard to quite a few instances suggests that [Zuma] could do terrible things to give effect to the wishes of the Guptas.

On Myeni’s misuse of the State Security Agency: “There is accordingly overwhelming and corroborated evidence that Ms Myeni was unlawfully benefiting from SSA resources and enjoyed the protection of undercover operatives, trained overseas in counterintelligence strategies and intelligence gathering. This reveals how powerful Ms Myeni was and how close she was to President Zuma.”

On Myeni’s time at SAA: “Ms Myeni operated SAA under a cloud of fear, intimidation, secrecy and paranoia, when a public entity should be operated transparently and with accountability to the South African people who fund its operations.”

On Zuma’s exit from the Zondo Commission: “Mr Zuma fled the Commission completely without any valid reason. He did so in order to avoid having to answer questions in the Commission about matters such as this. He did not want to account to the nation. He knew he was not going to have answers to many of the questions that were bound to be put to him.”

ormer president Jacob Zuma at the state capture commission of inquiry during his application that deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo must recuse himself in the inquiry. Photo Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick

On former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana: “As the chair of the SAAT, the chair of the SAA ARC and a non-executive member of the SAA Board, Ms Kwinana displayed a fundamental lack of appreciation of conflict of interest policies and processes.”

On the failure of private sector auditors: “PwC and Nkonki gave clean audits to SAA for five consecutive years between 2012 and 2016. During this period, the Board was in a state of precipitous governance decline. It was also engaging in acts of corruption and fraud. None of this was, however, detected by its auditors.”

On former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana: “The Commission believes that the answers she gave to certain questions during her evidence revealed either that she has no clue about some of the basic obligations that she should know as a chartered accountant, or she knew those obligations but dishonestly pretended that she did not know them because it was convenient for her to do so.”

On cadre deployment: “One of the defining features that has emerged in the evidence before the Commission is that in order to divert public funds for private benefit, it was necessary to populate key institutions with people who were going to comply with orders.”

*On former Public Service Minister Richard Baloyi’s confused testimony: “In desperation, [Baloyi] tried to build a raft from twigs.”

On what Zuma was willing to do to please the Guptas: “The evidence that the Commission heard in regard to quite a few instances suggests that [Zuma] could do terrible things to give effect to the wishes of the Guptas.”

On Zuma’s claim that it was late minister Collins Chabane, and not Zuma, who wanted to remove the principled Themba Maseko from his position in government communications: “It is a fabrication by Mr Zuma to avoid accountability for a decision that he took. Mr Zuma falsely implicated Minister Chabane because he knew that Minister Chabane has passed on and will not be there to refute his evidence.”

Themba Maseko appears before the Zondo Commission in inquiry, 30 August, 2018. Photo: News24 Video screen grab

On Maseko’s removal by Zuma: “President Zuma was prepared to throw his own comrade in the ANC, Mr Maseko, a well-performing civil servant, into the street just because he had refused to be party to a corrupt arrangement sought by the Guptas.”

In praise of Themba Maseko: “Mr Maseko was one of the few government officials who was willing to stand up to the pressure exerted by the Gupta family. As the evidence presented before the Commission over three years showed time and again, there were far too few public servants with the integrity and courage of Mr Maseko.”

On the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) once Maseko was replaced by Mzwanele Manyi: “GCIS was an enabler of state capture during Mr Manyi’s tenure.”

On former Cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba: “Mr Gigaba was prepared to do wrong for the Guptas or Mr Zuma.”

On former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi’s approval of wasteful contracts with Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age: “Mr Tsotsi’s conduct in ratifying this contract and in failing to ensure that the new Board was made fully aware of all the facts about this contract and what the previous Board – of which he was the Chairperson – had said about this contract can only lead to the conclusion that he was either advancing the agenda of the Guptas or was so incompetent that he should never have been a director of a company, not to speak of being Chairperson of Eskom.”

On the money spent by SOEs on The New Age: “Not one of the witnesses before the Commission who promoted and supported TNA was able to show that any of the SOEs derived value for the millions of rands that were spent on TNA.”

On the Guptas’ relationship with Zuma: “The influence they exerted over former president Zuma was considerable.”

On former SARS head Tom Moyane’s refusal to cooperate with the Nugent Commission: “Mr Moyane knew that, from the moment the Nugent Commission was appointed, there was a lot he had to account for which he had done that was wrong in respect of which he would have no answers.”

On former SARS executive Vlok Symington’s testimony that SARS was high functioning before its “restructuring” by Bain and Tom Moyane: “What Mr Symington said about how highly regarded SARS was internationally before it was subjected to capture by Bain under Mr Moyane’s leadership is no different from what I was told about SAA at some stage, Eskom at some stage and Denel at some stage, each of which were subsequently run down considerably with rampant corruption and state capture. All of which happened under the watch of the government of the ruling party, the African National Congress.”

On the failure of SOEs: “The decline happened over a number of years but both the government and the ruling party failed dismally to make any effective interventions to halt the decline. Either they did not care or they slept on the job or they had no clue what to do.”

On Zuma’s activities regarding SARS: “It is a notable feature of the SARS evidence, in contrast to the rest of the evidence which the Commission heard, that this is one of the few instances where President Zuma was himself directly and personally involved in the activities and plans to take over a government entity, namely SARS.”

On the decision to give Bain so much power over SARS: “Bain knew that they did not have the necessary expertise. They must have thought South Africa did not know this or did not care whether they had the necessary expertise. I think President Zuma and Mr Moyane neither knew nor cared.”

On the purge of senior SARS staff under Moyane: “Mr Moyane took umbrage with the assertion that he was the reason for the departure of the senior personnel identified above. He said he played no role in them leaving. However, this is just not credible.”

tom moyane

Former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane testifies in Johannesburg at the Zondo Commission on 26 May 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

On the false narrative of a SARS ‘Rogue Unit’: “Poor journalism at the Sunday Times allowed these allegations to appear in more than 30 articles published between August 2014 and April 2016.”

On the categorical falsehood of the ‘Rogue Unit’ story: “The sequel to the Rogue Unit saga is that each and every component of what turned out to be the false narrative in relation to the High-Risk Investigative Unit has been dismantled and there have been definitive judicial findings in respect thereof.”

However, evidence shows that the ideals of empowerment were grossly manipulated and abused to advance the interests of a few individuals.

On the fact that Moyane still maintains a Rogue Unit existed: “The alleged existence of the Rogue Unit was a pretext under which to target people. The fact that Mr Moyane still asserts the establishment of the unit was unlawful is telling.”

On the tension between Moyane and Minister Pravin Gordhan: “A great deal of what was said by each of them, both on affidavit and when testifying in person, did not contribute greatly to evidence of state capture but highlighted very graphically the obviously strongly held mutual antipathy between them.”

On Moyane’s time at SARS: “The evidence that was heard by the Commission in regard to SARS revealed conclusively that Mr Moyane was involved in advancing the project of State Capture when he was Commissioner of SARS… Mr Moyane simply did not act with the interests of SARS at heart. He sought to advance Mr Zuma’s and Bain’s interests.”

On Moyane’s claims that Gordhan is racist: “To accuse the Minister of racism was not only unjustified but particularly unfortunate, given his struggle history.”

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan testifies at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, 19 November 2018. Screenshot/SABC

On the way BBBEE in public procurement was abused to enable corruption: “Procurement has a legitimate transformation role to play in South Africa. State institutions are permitted to use procurement as a policy tool to advance the interests of various designated groups. However, evidence shows that the ideals of empowerment were grossly manipulated and abused to advance the interests of a few individuals.”

On the leadership failures by SOE boards: “The evidence received by the Commission demonstrates that in many cases and in fundamental respects, the Boards of the SOEs have shirked their responsibilities, or worse, used their powers to corrupt the SOEs which they have been appointed to protect.”

On political interference at SOEs: “There is a pattern of executive interference and political overreach at the SOEs. Evidence shows that ministers, and even the former president, Mr Zuma, were regularly involved with operational matters.”

On the pre-existing weakness of the public procurement system: “To use the analogy of the current pandemic, state capture aggressively attacked a system which was already weakened by long-standing comorbidities.” DM

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Update: This article originally stated that a negative Judge Zondo quote referred to former Eskom board member Norman Baloyi. This was an error; in reality the quote referred to former Public Service Minister Richard Baloyi. We apologise.


Comments - Please in order to comment.


    Rebecca has summarised beautifully what has been out there for -in some cases- months if not years.
    What is the NPA/Hawks/police/SARS waiting for? Zondo and his Staff to go out and arrest these crooks themselves. This I fear, is the problem and is likely to remain so.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    Good grief. Volume 1? What manner of hell and fury will be wrought on the country when volumes 2 and 3 are due to be released?
    This alone SHOULD be enough to create perfect incarceration opportunities but regrettably these are only the findings of a commission. The official legal journeys have not even begun.
    If they even will… and therein lies the crux of hope of the country.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      And the likes of Dali will be licking his lips in anticipation of another ‘windfall’ … to outdo the one he got at SABC some time ago !

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      The likes of Dali is very likely licking his lops in anticipation of another handsome ‘payday’ like he did with the SABC saga several years ago. There are vultures waiting to feed !

  • Coen Gous says:

    How can one comment on a article like this…brilliant analysis. Said everything! How difficult it must be to write all the time about what is not right, whilst still keeping a smiling, positive face. Maybe Branko must take this team of extra-ordinary journalists for a weekend “lets live it up” somewhere where cellphones, email, and the like can not reach you. Gosh, 7 days into the new year, and “Happy New Year” long forgotten.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    Strydom, Verwoerd, Vorster, Trump and many more must be laughing with “I told you so …”.

  • Mthimkulu Mashiya says:

    As far back as 2014, a senior civil servant in the Northern Cape Department of Public Works, MATHLOKO STEPHEN MOTINGOE was maliciously and illegally subjected to unfair disciplinary hearing. His ‘sin’ was to stand firm when the Head of Department, Kholekile Nogwili, wanted to dish out corrupt tenders. In a Labour Court judgment that vindicated Motingoe, Judge van Niekerk wrote,
    “The fight against corruption is almost entirely dependent on individuals such as [Motingoe], who choose to exercise their duties fearlessly and independently, and have the courage to call their employers to account when wrong-doing is identified.”
    As far as I know, nothing happened to Nogwili who was reported to be buddies with the then MEC Dawid Rooi.

    • Charles Parr says:

      We need a way of recognising the bravery of people like Motingoe as without them we’ll get crushed under the weight of corruption. We’re very close to that now.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Great and pithy summation, Ms Davis; sadly there is no sign of Ramaphosa, or indeed the whole NEC, having properly come to terms with that which Part One of the Zondo report clearly spells out, and scarily would seem to indicate that none of the many issues that are raised, will be addressed.

    If Zondo is going to be constructive in guiding us and our country into a better space, then it is going to take more than the prosecution of the many fingered, but must also embrace a root and branch reappraisal of the defining principles steering the ANC, with, in particular, cadre deployment and BEE consigned to the scrap heap and talent being the sole criteria of suitability.

    Government needs also to be severely pruned back; at present it consumes far too much of national resources yet still generates negative returns.

    The way is thus clear; severe pruning throughout all tiers of Governance. There is simply no other way if our country is ever going to find a high growth scenario which is all that can take us out of this abyss.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Dream on !!! … CR has just announced ‘cadre deployment’ as the centre-plank of his ANC ‘renewal’ strategy at the 110th anniversary celebrations ! He deviously referred to Tutu as a stalwart of democracy … and then manipulated the Arch’s ‘principled’ stance to endorse the ANC’s immoral stance ! The ANC is above principles/scruples like not giving the Dalai Lama a visa, to appease their pal Xi .

  • Rg Bolleurs says:

    At the centre of state capture is Jacob Zuma.

    We keep on about the facilitators without ever going for the source.

    Hunt down the Guptas and put them and Zuma in the dock together.

    Will this ever happen? I would say no chance at all.

    It would take a DA government to get this done

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