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Final chapter of R1 bn state capture report finally reaches president

The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Justice Raymond Zondo, sits in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Justice Raymond Zondo, sits in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 22, 2022

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SIYABONGA SITHOLE

More than R1 billion later and after 8 million papers of documentary evidence, as well as 75 000 pages of transcribed oral evidence and over 800 witnesses, the final chapter to the commission of inquiry into state capture led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has finally arrived.

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On Wednesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa received the final Zondo Commission report, which comes after a series of delays and extensions amid the Phala Phala Farm and the Glencore scandals directly linking the president as a person of interest in state capture.

South Africa - Johannesburg - 28 April 2021 - President Cyril Ramaphosa appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

The final instalment, which was supposed to reach the president last week was extended to Monday and then subsequently moved forward to Wednesday.

This in turn has set tongues wagging with many accusing the President and the Chief Justice of working behind the scenes to alter facts and manipulate findings to suit the president who stands accused of dealing in foreign currency, kidnapping and money-laundering following recent revelations by former state security agency head, Arthur Fraser.

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Speaking to this newspaper ahead of the release of the final instalment, Professor Sipho Seepe said the Zondo report has left South Africa and South Africans much poorer than they were four years ago. This is because Zondo has made the commission about former president Jacob Zuma and the Guptas instead of an inclusive report on the real state of capture in the country, he says.

Former Government Communication and Information Systems head Mzwanele Manyi takes the stand at the state capture inquiry. Picture: Dimpho Maja/ African News Agency (ANA)

"First of all, the report leaves much to be desired because of the chair. It has become evident that the chair that he was biased when he was told not to make the commission about Zuma. In the end we have Zondo himself being compromised with a chair who became a referee and a player in the Zuma matter. He also gave us an impression that he and Zuma had no relation but under pressure admitted that he and Zuma go a long way back. The chairperson of the commission himself has been inconsistent and conflicted man who took his fight against Zuma to his friends at Constitutional Court," Seepe said.

Calls were made for the protection of witnesses appearing before the state capture inquiry, following the threats on the life of former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi. Picture: Dimpho Maja/ African News Agency(ANA)

Seepe also said the Zondo commission has failed to investigate matters involving the president on his role as the former chairperson of Glencore through his company, Shanduka which benefited through expensive coal contract to Eskom.

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"Here you have the chairperson of the commission who was told about the involvement of the president in the Glencore matter by Brian Molefe, that he undermined and probably violated the PFMA act and what does he do? That information is not treated with the seriousness it deserves.

“You do not hear much about Glencore in the state capture report yet we now know that Glencore has been found to be a criminal syndicate. But in the Zondo commission it comes out almost clean,” he said.

Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

However, political analyst, Levy Ndou differs, saying the Zondo Commission was a necessary exercise as it has given South Africans a chance to find out about the issue of corruption in the country as looting of state resources by political elites has become endemic.

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"I do not think that the commission was a waste of taxpayers money. This is because wherever you go, you were confronted with the scourge of corruption and even though more than R1 billion was spent on it, this is something we all needed to move the country forward,“ Ndou said.

Former president Jacob Zuma on the first day of his appearance at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown, Joburg. Picture: Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

The first part of the four-part report was published on January 4, with subsequent reports released in short succession since then. The latest report has been mired in controversy following numerous extension requests made by the chief justice. On Monday, the Presidency released a statement following suspicions that the president had already received the last report which was rescheduled from Monday to last night as the chief justice request an umpteenth extension.

The final part of the Commission report was due to be handed over to Ramaphosa by June 15, which was extended once again by the commission chair. Zondo communicated his request to Ramaphosa on June 16 and undertook to finalise the report as soon as possible.

The Commission’s first witness took the stand on August 20, 2018, and the last on August 12, 2021 with the average price for a ream of paper (500 sheets) set at around R90. This means that just over R1.5 million was spent on paper alone, all in an attempt to prove that former president Jacob Zuma and his co-conspirators, mainly the Gupta’s, enabled state capture.

It is also reported that hearings of the commission took place for over 400 days and heard over 300 witness testimonies and 1,438 entities and people were implicated by evidence given before the Commission’s inquiry. In 2019, Zondo announced that he had intended to call more than 700 witnesses to the commission with some of the witnesses not being called to give their testimonies due to issues of time.

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