Ex-deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas at the commission of inquiry. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)
Ex-deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas at the commission of inquiry. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

#StateCapture bigger than Zuma - Mcebisi Jonas

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Mar 15, 2019

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Johannesburg - Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas says the concept of state capture should not be thought of as just a "Zuma" issue but a bigger structural and systematic issue. 

Jonas returned to the Zondo commission on Friday to conclude his evidence. 

Jonas said he had an issue with the idea of state capture being thought of as just a "Zuma issue", referring to the accusations surrounding former president Jacob Zuma's involvement in state capture. 

He said state capture was bigger than Zuma and it showed the erosion of the country's systems. 

"We have an over-personalised political system. The danger with the whole process of state capture is we tend to over "Zumanize" it and thinking of it being just about Zuma. It is bigger, it structural and it is systematic and we will miss the point if we do that," said Jonas. 

"We need to try and take out personalities from our politics."

The former deputy minister said there was an issue with the relationship of a political party and slippage with the functioning of the state. He said this makes for easy pickings for people who want to capture the state because if you capture the party you can easily capture the state.

"Capturing the party is an easy way of capturing the state. Because the relationship between the party and state there are no strong lines between the two. How do we draw a wall between a political party and a state? The institutions that have survived here are those that are not connected to the state such as the judiciary," Jonas said.  

"Part of thinking around this should be how do we separate the state from the political party. How do you build institutions that are separate from political parties?" he asked. 

Jonas also told the commission about the hostility faced by National Treasury in 2015 and the years after and before he was fired along with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. 

He said the hostility faced by Treasury officials was very personal, palpable and professional. He said the attacks were even focused on the Treasury's decision to tighten the belt when it came to fiscal spending in government departments and provincial departments. 

Jonas was also asked to comment on statements provided by Duduzane Zuma and Fana Hlongwane. 

He had testified last year and implicated the two. Jonas told the commission that in October 2015 he was offered R600 000 cash and an R6 million payment later if he took up the post of finance minister. 

He said Ajay Gupta was the one who offered him the job while they met at the Gupta family compound in Saxonwold. He said Hlongwane and Zuma were present at the meeting but did not speak. 

Hlongwane and Zuma deny that a Gupta brother was present at the meeting and they both state that Rajesh Gupta came in briefly during the meeting but he did not stay. 

Jonas has disputed this version and said he is sticking to his story. 

Jonas will face cross-examination from Hongwane and Zuma's legal representatives. 

The inquiry continues.

* Read more on the #StateCaptureInquiry here

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