Ways of state capture exposed

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Published Jun 24, 2022


Cape Town - A small group of actors, together with collaborators inside and outside of the state were central in conspiring to redirect the country’s resources from the state for their own gain by showering politicians with gifts, home upgrades and even buying them luxury furniture.

In his final report, made public on Wednesday, state capture commission chair Justice Raymond Zondo painted a picture of how some of the country’s state-owned entities (SOE) were used to cement the ties between politicians and the private actors.

His report also details how politicians received gratification to influence decision-making structures of the state.

This, he said, happened at several SOEs and government departments where the Guptas and Bosasa were awarded contracts.

Zondo said state capture was a manifestation of a conflict of interest.

“Private individuals or firms seek to engage politicians and public sector actors through the provision of private benefits to shape public decisions in their interests. As a result, robust legislation to regulate conflict of interest and the interaction between public officials and private actors is critical to prevent state capture.”

Zondo said much of the evidence presented to the commission indicated that state capture in the South African context evolved as a project by which a relatively small group of actors, together with their collaborator, conspired systematically to redirect resources from the state for their benefit.

“This was facilitated by a deliberate effort to exploit or weaken key state institutions and public entities but also including law enforcement institutions and intelligence services. The process involved undermining of oversight mechanisms and the manipulation of the public narrative in favour of those who sought to capture the state.”

While he said he did not want to deal with all SOEs, his reading of the evidence of what happened at Eskom, Denel and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) revealed quite clearly state capture took place in those entities.

In the report, Zondo details how certain executives were removed and associates appointed to carry out their scheme at the SOEs.

Zondo also said the evidence “overwhelmingly” established that Bosasa, its leadership, employees and associates were able to gain illicit control over the procurement process of the departments and organs of the state.

“It also sought to identify and influence individuals that wielded the greatest influence within the ruling party.”

He said although the primary mechanism for attempting to influence public office-bearers was the payment of cash bribes, Bosasa also provided benefits in the form of building houses, providing various furnishings for homes, installing several home security systems, purchasing and hiring motor vehicles, buying gifts and paying for travel and accommodation.

“By spreading benefits widely in this manner, Bosasa was able to maintain an advantage in fresh tender and contract extension processes, eliminate the risk of whistle-blowing and ensure the early provision of confidential information that would enable it to have an advantage in any tender process.”

Bosasa was awarded contracts by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Correctional Services, Airports Company South Africa and SAPO.

“The commission heard evidence that Bosasa provided corrupt gratification in the various forms for Zuma, the ANC and at least one minister and deputy minister.”

It also contributed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign for the ANC‘s top post.

Zondo named former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, former MP Vincent Smith and Deputy Minister of Defence Thabang Makwetla as all received free security system installation or upgrades – something they denied during their testimonies before the commission.

“It can be concluded from evidence that Bosasa and its leadership, employees and associates were indeed involved in the systematic attainment of unlawful and corrupt influence to a substantial degree over the decision-making of certain organs of state for their own private purpose and gain,” he said.

Cape Times