Jacob Zuma helped to oust competent ministers: Zondo report

29 April 2022 - 12:09
By Aron Hyman
Atul Gupta, at the bottom of the steps to his Saxonwold, Johannesburg home. File photo.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND Atul Gupta, at the bottom of the steps to his Saxonwold, Johannesburg home. File photo.

Former president Jacob Zuma was prepared to axe competent people from their jobs if the Gupta family wanted them out.

“President Zuma was prepared to remove people from their positions who were very good in their jobs if the Guptas wanted those people removed or if the Guptas wanted people associated with them to be put into those positions," reads the latest report by the commission of inquiry into state capture.

This extraordinary power of control over Zuma was how the Gupta family captured key SA entities, including Eskom, the largest power utility in Africa.

Referring to evidence led in the state capture commission by witnesses, the report found that examples of Zuma removing people from their positions to serve Gupta interests included:

  • Zuma’s decision to remove Themba Maseko from his position as CEO of Government Communications and Information System “because he was not co-operating with the Guptas” and to replace him with Mzwanele Manyi — now Zuma’s spokesperson;
  • Zuma’s dismissal of minister Nhlanhla Nene “for refusing to work with the Guptas or for not being prepared to approve certain objectionable transactions or projects that President Zuma wanted him to approve”;
  • the removal of Malusi Gigaba as minister of public enterprises after he was allegedly threatened with removal for his non-compliance with the Guptas;
  • Zuma’s removal of Barbara Hogan as public enterprises minister to make way for Gigaba, “a minister of public enterprises who was linked to the Guptas”; and
  • Zuma’s decision to replace Ngoako Ramatlhodi with Mosebenzi Zwane as minister of mineral resources despite Zwane’s dismal track record in the Free State government.

In a section of the report covering Eskom’s capture and its resulting downward spiral, the commission’s chair chief justice Raymond Zondo found that the Guptas had attempted to capture Eskom through Zuma’s help.

“When the Guptas had devised a scheme for the removal of certain executives at Eskom so that they would have them replaced by executives of their choice, President Zuma helped implement that scheme.”

This is a developing story.