Johannesburg – The second report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption, and Fraud in the Public Sector has found former president Jacob Zuma’s evidence to be an “improbable” fabrication that is rejected.
According to the report, Zuma went all out to place former Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama into a position of CEO at the parastatal in spite of protests from the board and Department of Public Enterprises.
Once he was eventually appointed, the commission found he facilitated the movement of the Gupta family’s apprehension of the parastatal as part of their strategy of state capture.
In his testimony to the inquiry, Zuma gave evidence that he did not insist on the appointment of Gama ahead of Sipho Maseko even though Gama had been found to be unsuitable for the job while Maseko was the most preferred by the Transnet board.
Gama was found unsuitable for the job at the time due to a corruption probe stemming from his part in the awarding of a security tender to a company linked to a former cabinet minister when he was CEO of Transnet Freight Rail.
Zondo’s report also details a prolonged battle involving emails and physical meetings between Zuma and former public enterprise minister Barbara Hogan.
The report reveals that Zuma defied the appointment of Maseko because he preferred Gama even though his candidacy for the position was abandoned.
“The description of Mr. Gama as ‘the preferred internal candidate’ begs the question of whose preferred candidate he was? It seems probable that this description meant that Mr. Gama was President Zuma’s preferred candidate. That is the most logical meaning of that phrase in the second sentence.
“It thus corroborates Ms. Hogan’s version that President Zuma wanted Mr. Gama to be appointed as the [group] CEO of Transnet. It is inconsistent with Mr. Zuma’s version that he had no preferred candidate and that he did not tell Ms. Hogan that he wanted Mr. Gama for that position and nobody else.
“President Zuma’s refusal to appoint Mr. Maseko as CEO of Transnet and his insistence on appointing Mr. Gama — even as Mr. Gama was facing investigations into allegations of serious acts of misconduct, including allegations of misconduct relating to tenders — reflects the first steps taken by President Zuma towards the capture of Transnet by the Guptas with President Zuma’s assistance,” the report read.
Furthermore, Zondo suggests Zuma should face corruption and racketeering probes for his role as an enabler of the Transnet capture.
Also read: Read part 2 of the state capture report here
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