The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it hopes that the barons, swindlers and enablers of state capture will be exposed and sent to jail at the conclusion of the commission of inquiry into state capture, which began its work in Johannesburg today.
The federation voiced its support for the inquiry, saying it hopes it will help expose the architects and beneficiaries of state capture. Cosatu has a membership of just below two million attached to its union affiliates and is a significant ally of the ruling ANC.
The inquiry will centre on the role of the Gupta family as well as President Jacob Zuma and other officials in enabling the family, originally from India, to siphon funds from the state and state-owned enterprises by corrupt means. Billions of rands in illegal contracts with SOEs were exposed through the Guptaleaks emails obtained from computers owned by companies linked to the controversial family.
The Guptaleaks emails even exposed some of the government officials who are alleged to have worked with the Guptas to steal state resources.
Among the SOEs implicated in the corruption are Eskom, Transnet, Denel and the SABC. It is also alleged that some government departments, including Water Affairs and Sanitation and the government of the Free State, poured their advertising budgets into propping up and keeping Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age, alive.
Zuma himself is implicated in the scandal by some of the key witnesses such as former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former public enterprises portfolio committee head Vytjie Mentor.
The two are alleged to have turned down offers of senior ministerial posts by the Guptas after learning they would be expected to dish out favours to the family, which is believed to have a close personal friendship with Zuma. Both the former president’s children, Duduzane and Duduzile, became directors in companies operated by the Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh.
More interesting evidence to be tabled before the commission will likely come from the former government information chief, Themba Maseko, who was allegedly phoned by Zuma to “help” the Guptas. Maseko was expected to divert government advertising spend to Gupta newspaper The New Age, which was struggling to make ends meet after all commercial advertisers boycotted the publication.
The paper has since closed down and staff retrenched after it was briefly bought by Mzwanele Manyi and rebranded as Afro Voice. Manyi is believed to be a staunch ally of Zuma and the Guptas.
Jonas and Mentor blew the whistle on the conditions placed on their job offers while Maseko refused to “help” the Guptas as allegedly instructed by Zuma, a decision for which he paid dearly after he was unceremoniously removed as head of the Government Communications and Information System.
The Guptas are currently fugitives from the SA justice system and have since fled from South Africa to India or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where they are said to own an empire of expensive properties.
Cosatu says the commencement of the commission was long overdue. “The people of South Africa deserve some answers and clarity about the economic vandalism that has happened over the last couple of years,” says Cosatu national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla.
“This inquiry will hopefully dig deeper and expose the decay that has crippled both our economy and our country. The country is teetering on the brink because of a flagging economy and many people are struggling to feed and clothe their families because of the effects of State Capture and corruption,” Pamla continued.
He said the federation hoped that the Zondo inquiry will “enlighten us and expose the architects and beneficiaries of state capture.” “Cosatu wants to see all the robber barons, swindlers and their enablers, who have stolen from the poor sent to jail where they belong.”