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South Africa’s Zuma ‘critical’ to state capture scams

The latest damning report into Jacob Zuma's presidency, released Friday, hands him a "critical" role in a private bid to take over South Africa's public utility company Eskom.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma, who is facing fraud and corruption charges, speaks after his appearance in the High Court, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The latest damning report into Jacob Zuma’s presidency, released Friday, hands him a “critical” role in a private bid to take over South Africa’s public utility company Eskom.

A special inquiry filed a fourth volume of the huge report with President Cyril Ramaphosa, detailing Zuma’s key role in major corruption through a merging of state, party and private business.

The report has been put together after four years of investigations led by current chief justice Raymond Zondo, revealing how the wealthy Indian-born Gupta brothers became enmeshed at the highest levels of government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

“President Zuma’s interference in the affairs of the board marked the beginning of the implementation of the Guptas’ plan to capture Eskom,” the report said.

“And President Zuma was a critical player in that plan,” it added.

“The evidence proves a scheme by the Guptas to capture Eskom, install the Guptas’ selected officials in strategic positions… and then divert Eskom’s assets to the Guptas’ financial advantage,” according to the report.

“State capture and its agents caused immense harm to Eskom over many years,” the company said in a statement Friday, listing civil actions it has launched to recover some of the billions of South African rands it lost to the scheme.

Zondo recommended that law enforcement agencies investigate further “with a view to the possible criminal prosecution of the implicated parties… for their part in facilitating the fraud, corruption and financial misconduct against Eskom and the State”.

The report also criticises fraud in social housing and asbestos removal contracts worth $10 million in Free State province when it was run by ANC grandee Ace Magashule, an ally of Zuma, who has been charged over the affair and suspended by the party.

“Dismal failure – a debacle!” the report said.

“There were either no houses that had been built for the poor people… or there were so few houses built compared to those that were supposed to have been built that they are not worth mentioning.”

Zuma, 80, is on medical parole after being given a 15-month jail term for contempt following his refusal to testify before the commission probing financial sleaze under his presidency.

His jailing sparked riots last July that left more than 350 people dead.

A fifth and final volume of the report is expected by June 15.

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