State-Capture-Cyril-Ramaphosa-Report-Zondo Photo: SA Gov News

Senior Judge Raymond Zondo has handed over the final part of the State Capture Report, and while former President Jacob Zuma is identified for his role in state capture, current President Cyril Ramaphosa is not let off the hook for his inaction in preventing the rot during a period in which he was Deputy President of a country being looted.

The SA president had told the Zondo Commission of Enquiry that he had no first-hand knowledge of any wrongdoing by his predecessor, only media reports, according to the Report published on Wednesday.

But the report argued that, as deputy president at the time, he should have done more towards making his own enquiries, given the responsibilities of his position.

Zondo final report Ramaphosa
Final part of the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Photo: Reuters keyframe

The final instalment of the inquiry chaired by Zondo, which examined claims of corruption and fraud under Zuma, is a product of three years of hearings involving some 300 witnesses, including Ramaphosa himself.

It comes at an awkward time for Ramaphosa, as the police are investigating money-laundering accusations against him after millions of dollars were allegedly stolen from his farm Phala Phala, an investigation which he has welcomed.

Ramaphosa also faces a divided party ahead of this year’s African National Congress (ANC) elective conference that will decide whether to give him a second run at president on the party’s ticket in elections expected in 2024.

The Zondo commission was formed in 2018 to examine allegations of high-level corruption during Zuma’s nine-year tenure from 2009 – following the state capture investigation and report by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Zuma was suspected of colluding with businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to plunder state resources. They deny all wrongdoing.

Prof Madonsela said on Thursday: “Let’s thank Chief Justice Zondo and the #statecapture team for scrupulously investigating state capture allegations and providing a vivid and odious picture of how some of our key public institutions and processes were hijacked and repurposed for private gain.”

Zondo’s final report yesterday asks of Ramaphosa, who was deputy president under Zuma between 2014 and 2018: “Ought he to have known?”

The conclusion Zondo draws is a resounding yes. “The wealth of evidence before this commission suggests the answer is yes. There was surely enough credible information in the public domain to at least prompt him to inquire and perhaps act on a number of serious allegations.”

Ramaphosa’s office was not immediately available for comment, but on receiving the report, Ramaphosa said the government would come up with an implementation plan for the commission’s proposals within four months.

“The report is … an instrument through which the country can … ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again,” Ramaphosa said. (One of the recommendations is that “President must be elected directly by the people”.)

This month the United Arab Emirates arrested Rajesh and Atul Gupta, where they had fled to after the so-called “state capture” scandal erupted, and South Africa is in the process of trying to get them extradited.

The report also found that the ANC, the legacy party of Nelson Mandela, prioritized “its own survival and strength over the Constitutional obligations of its members.”

The ANC said it would “honestly engage with whatever criticism may be levelled against it.”

President Ramaphosa admitted on Wednesday that state capture was an assault on South Africa’s democracy and violated the rights of every man, woman and child in the country.

“Through the various reports released by the commission, we have come to understand what happened, who was involved, and what effect state capture has had on our state, our economy and our society… The report is far more than a record of widespread corruption, fraud and abuse; it is also an instrument through which the country can work to ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again,” said Ramaphosa.

The president thanks Zondo and his team for the monumental task they undertook, and thanked those who gave evidence “and to the whistle-blowers, academics, investigators and journalists whose work contributed to uncovering many of the matters before the commission.

“I wish to acknowledge the critical contribution of Adv Thuli Madonsela, whose courageous and unflinching investigation set in motion the process to uncover these misdeeds,” said the President.

The full report can be read on links at the bottom of this page.

Sources include Reuters and SANews