How former President Jacob Zuma gifted the country to the Gupta brothers

He’s almost done. His work, one might be tempted to say. At the end of April, South African judge Raymond Zondo submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa the fourth and penultimate part of his report on the corruption regime that has ruled South Africa for nearly a decade. Crushing the former head of state, Jacob Zuma, he recounts how a president who became a puppet of a brother allowed businessmen to carry out the heist of the century: plundering his country for multibillion-dollar plunder.

At a race in Dubai, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, aka “Tony”And The Gupta, three brothers of Indian descent, ruled South Africa from early 2010 until the forced resignation of Jacob Zuma in 2018. [Jacob] Zuma has seriously opened the doors of public institutions to the Guptas family and invited them to help themselves get the money and assets of the people of South Africa.”Judge Zondo writes.

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Head of the investigation committee for what it calls South Africa “state families”For four years, Raymond Zondo has heard more than three hundred witnesses tell a story “Nine Lost Years” For the term of office of Jacob Zuma. Railways, aviation, prison services, etc. : The first sections of the commission’s report showed how the siblings took control of entire sections of the South African economy before they were systematically drained.

In this new opus, released on April 29, Judge Zondo specifically clarifies the role “middle” Jacob Zuma in the Gupta seizure of executive power. tasked with cleaning up the rebel, “President Zuma would have been able to fire someone who was excellent at his job if that person was not willing to cooperate with Gupta.”Raymond Zondo continues.

“find money”

Nahlanhla Nene, Minister of Finance from May 2014 to December 2015, knows something about this. At that time, this respected senior official cared for the state treasury. But balancing the budget is not on Gupta’s agenda. Nor does it fit with Jacob Zuma’s concept of public finance. “In other countries of the world, finance ministers don’t tell the president that there is no more money, their job is to find the money.”The former head of state was once annoyed with the director of the public treasury.

At the forefront of Mr. Nene’s concerns is the disastrous situation of the national airline, South African Airways. Under a board of directors acquired from Guptas, the company’s losses doubled between 2012 and 2014. The company’s financial instability threatens the soundness of its public finances. Mr. Nene wants a new board of directors to restore the credibility of a company that can no longer borrow.

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At the helm of the board of directors, Dodo Mini is a protégé of Guptas and Jacob Zuma. Mr. Nene warned: It is he or she. After a few weeks, it is he who is thanked. The departure of the respected Nahlanhla Nene is causing panic in the financial markets. Within forty-eight hours, the rand collapsed and South African bonds lost 10% of their value. An inexperienced deputy, Des van Roen, replaces the beloved minister. The day before his appointment, he made the detour to the Guptas. On the day he arrived at the ministry, Mister Van Roen was surrounded by two people “Advisors” Some of them were surprised by the power they seem to have over the new minister. The director of the public treasury also says he has been warned by an executive of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party, of a downturn. “Minister Gupta”.

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It will disappear after three days. Public service veteran Pravin Jordanhan was appointed urgently to reassure the markets. He has already passed the mail, and he intends to stop the financial mismanagement. Trouble does not take long to fall it. In 2016, he was tried as part of an investigation into a supposed “rogue unit” within the IRS when he headed it. The press denounces the gang. The folder is empty. This time, manipulate Bashit.

Police on orders

The Guptas had calculated everything. “You have to understand that we control everything and that the old man will do what he is told to do.”He once threatened one of the brothers during a visit by the Deputy Minister of Finance to their residence. The police, the intelligence, the tax authorities … In addition to placing their pawns at the head of the state, the Guptas put at their service departments that might search for lice for them. The only thing left for the brothers and their families, and thus their protection, was to milk the state by taking over more public orders.

How much money did this mafia regime steal from South Africa? In 2021, the co-founder of the British NGO Shadow World Investigations, Paul Holden, estimated the sum of fraudulent contracts allocated to companies linked to Guptas at more than 3.5 billion dollars (3.3 billion euros). The actual cost is much more than that. “If we look, for example, at what happened in Prasa [la compagnie publique de transport ferroviaire]this may not be at the same level as conversions in Eskom [société d’électricité publique]But it has had an impact on millions of people who have lost their jobs because the network is no longer working.”confirms Henny van Vuuren, director of OpenSecrets, a South African anti-corruption organization.

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and yet? Judge Zundu has until June 15 to present the final part of his report. He has already recommended the opening of judicial proceedings against more than 130 people, including a number of former ministers. elected on a promise “new dawn” Since then, Cyril Ramaphosa has often been criticized for being soft in his fight against corruption. He must deal with the partisan struggles within his own party, part of which has long benefited from this system that some do not want to see disappear.

INTERPOL Red Notices

In early March, the president sent a strong signal by appointing Judge Zundu to head the Constitutional Court, making him the country’s first judge. “But he cannot change the system on his ownFury Mr. Van Vureen, from OpenSecrets. We need an NPA [National Prosecuting Authority (bureau du procureur)] Strong and determined to move forward. At the moment, this is not the case. »

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The Guptas family, who have been on the run in Dubai since the scandal erupted in 2016, have been the subject of Interpol red notices. Jacob Zuma was sentenced to fifteen months in prison for refusing to testify before the Zondo Commission in July 2021. He has since been released on medical terms in controversial circumstances. At the age of 80, he has already been tried for corruption in a weapons sale case, and has specialized in evading justice.

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