According to the most recent reports from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, the Gupta brothers used former President Jacob Zuma not only against the people of South Africa but also to install their own lackeys at key institutions. According to the report, Zuma was central to the Guptas’ scheme of state capture, who they must have identified at an early stage as someone whose character was such that they might use him against the people of South Africa, his own country, and his own govt to advance their own business interests.
“President Zuma readily opened the doors for the Guptas to enter State-Owned Enterprises and assist themselves to the money and assets of the people of South Africa,” says the fourth section of the report, which was delivered to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday by Commission Chairperson Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
According to the report, Zuma “would do anything the Guptas asked him to do for them,” including dismissing competent ministers and senior officials at parastatal institutions so that Gupta lackeys could be appointed to those positions.
The Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul, and Tony – first arrived in South Africa from Saharanpur in India in the early 1990s, as Nelson Mandela’s presidency began.
They allegedly used Zuma’s influence to start with a shoe store and quickly built up a massive empire that included IT, mining, and media.
The Guptas are believed to be in self-imposed exile in Dubai, with South Africa’s extradition request to face criminal charges still pending. They have also been designated as prohibited visitors in the United States and the United Kingdom.
After massive public outcry, Zuma was deposed by his own African National Congress just months before the end of his second five-year term as president. He is facing ongoing corruption charges and served only a few months of a 15-month prison sentence last year for refusing to testify before the Commission.
Many witnesses, including ministers who had been fired, testified to the Commission about Zuma and the Guptas’ involvement in their dismissals.
“President Zuma was willing to remove people who were very good at their jobs if the Guptas wished those people removed or if the Guptas wanted people affiliated with them to be put in those positions,” according to the report.
One of the three volumes that comprise this instalment of the Commission’s report, which sat for three years, is about the takeover of parastatal electricity supplier Eskom.