President Jacob Zuma is a troubled man, maybe the most troubled in the entire world. A new report released in South Africa provided details of how the country is controlled by President Zuma’s favourite family, the Guptas. The report was compiled by Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the outgoing South African Public Protector, who won Transparency International’s Integrity Award in 2014. Opposition parties have fully exploited the recent report to call for the South African leader to resign. Just hours before the report saw the light of day, the largest South African opposition party leader Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane said, “Today we look forward to the report. It's a turning point in South Africa and Zuma must account... Our simple request is that Zuma must go.” After the release of the repot, Maimane said, “Following the findings in the State Capture Report, Jacob Zuma should do the honorable thing and resign.” Will the South African leader buckle to pressure?
South Africa: A state in Gupta captivity
In March, deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas made allegations that shook South Africa to the effect that he had been offered the top ministerial post in Finance by the Guptas, a wealthy immigrant family. Jonas had said the attempt by the Guptas amounted to “a mockery of our (South Africa’s) hard-earned democracy” The Guptas allegedly offered Jonas the job of Finance Minister just three weeks before Zuma pulled off an unprecedented political circus by shuffling three Finance Ministers in a single week. President Zuma had removed Nhlanhla Nene from the ministerial after the Guptas met Jonas. Minister Van R who replaced Minister Nene is said in the report to have been “placed at the Saxonwold (the Guptas’ residence) area on at least seven occasions including on the day he was announced as Minister”. Another revelation from Vytjie Mentor is even more damning with Mentor having informed the Public Protector that she had been offered the position of Minister of Public Enterprises by the Guptas at Saxonwold , with President Zuma present in the house. The report says, “She stated that she was told she could become a Minister within a week or so if she assisted with influencing the South African Airways cancellation of the India route, she would become Minister of Public Enterprises. She refused the offer.” The President then emerged a little later and said to her , “It’s okay girl…take care of yourself.” The Guptas are said to have also pressured former chief executive of government’s communication agency to put government adverts in the Guptas’ newspaper and they enjoy a suspicious relationship with South Africa’s power utility company, Eskom.
With the current explosive revelations, President Jacob Zuma is carrying a heavy cross. Madonsela who has since left office recommended the appointment of a commission of inquiry to complete its mandate of further investigating issues raised in 180 days. Potentially criminal accusations in the report to the National Prosecuting Authority and the police’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation. However, there is increasing concern over the conduct if the Directorate seeing the fraud case against Pravin Gordhan which was more political than legal. Gordhan who is the Finance Minister has suffered persecution at the hands of the State for doing his job thus raising suspicions that the institutions out to get him have been infiltrated. Charges against Pravin Gordhan were however, dropped at the beginning of November resulting in a surge in the value of the Rand reflecting the relief in the market.
The ANC has since released a statement against corruption but nothing conclusive on action against Zuma. In the statement, the party said, “The African National Congress has long considered allegations of state capture as an attack on our democratic architecture and an anti-thesis of the values held dear by the ANC.” At this point, Zuma’s fate depends on the Commission of Inquiry’s findings and that outcome is probably seven months away. Transparency International has said of the Inquiry’s coming findings, “If Zuma is found by the commission to have comprised the position of president of South Africa, he must resign and be held to account.”