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Jacob Zuma would do anything for the Guptas – investigators conclude

By Lebo Diseko | BBC News |

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma would do anything the wealthy Indian-born Gupta family wanted him to do from early in his first term, corruption investigators have concluded.

The commission investigating allegations of widespread corruption in South Africa during Zuma’s nine years in power, known as “State Capture”, says the former president placed the interests of corrupt associates ahead of those of his country.

Grand corruption ... President Jacob Zuma (left) has been accused of helping the Gupta brothers—Rajesh, Ajay, and Atul—plunder as much as $7 billion from South Africa (Illustration/Matt Chase)
Grand corruption … President Jacob Zuma (left) has been accused of helping the Gupta brothers—Rajesh, Ajay, and Atul—plunder as much as $7 billion from South Africa (Illustration/Matt Chase)

Further, it says that the Guptas identified Zuma as someone whose character could be used against the people of South Africa to advance their own business interests.

These scathing conclusions were revealed in the fourth part of the commission’s report – released on Friday.

Central to the commission’s investigations has been the claim that the Guptas bought their way into the most influential organs of the state via Zuma.

Its latest report details how Zuma hired and fired ministers central to the running of the country’s economy at the behest of the Gupta family.

In particular it describes the sacking of a finance minister because he would not comply with the Guptas’ wishes, and the appointment of two subsequent ministers who were friendly to the family’s interests.

Zuma, who became president in 2009, and the Gupta family, who came to live in South Africa in 1993 just as white minority rule was ending, deny any wrongdoing.

The first pictures of South Africa's former President Jacob Zuma handing himself in to police to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.
In July 2021 these were the first pictures of South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma handing himself in to police to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.

Last June, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for defying an instruction to give evidence to the commission.

Its fourth report also details a web of corruption at the state electricity utility Eskom, culminating in key members of the company’s executive being put in place by the Guptas.

Eskom has had to receive several taxpayer-funded bailouts because of poor management, with South Africans now experiencing rolling blackouts.

The report recommends that criminal prosecution of the former Eskom chief executive and chief financial officer be considered by the country’s law enforcement agencies.

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