Former South African president Jacob Zuma on Monday arrived to make his long-awaited appearance before the state capture commission of inquiry where several witnesses have implicated him in the massive rent-seeking scandal that defined his nine-year administration.
A number of Zuma supporters rose to their feet, clapping and chanting his name as the former head of state arrived at the commission in Johannesburg.
Among his supporters is MKMVA (uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association) spokesperson Carl Niehaus who said the term “state capture” has been abused to fit certain narratives against Zuma. He said Zuma had nothing to do with the hollowing out of the state through state capture corruption.
Zuma’s appearance is set for the whole week. It was preceded by an exchange of correspondence between Zuma’s attorneys and the commission’s legal team over six weeks, during which the commission’s request for a written undertaking from Zuma to appear before it failed. Zondo then set aside five days for the former president.
On Friday, Zuma told the SABC that he had been called by the commission to “come and say my piece, so we will meet there”. He was in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday to lend support to his son Duduzane, who faced culpable homicide and negligent driving charges relating to a 2014 car crash in which a woman died. Duduzane was cleared of all charges.
Zuma, who enjoys extensive support in his KwaZulu-Natal home province, has reiterated publicly that he has done nothing wrong, despite mounting evidence at the inquiry of alleged corruption and state capture while he was president. He is accused of allowing his friends, the Gupta brothers, among others, to run amok and pocket hundreds of millions of rand in state contracts. The fugitive Guptas hastily left South Africa in 2016 as their leaked emails, dubbed the GuptaLeaks, revealed the extent of the rot perpetuated in the South African government and state-owned enterprises.
Security will be tight at the commission’s venue in Parktown, Johannesburg, with only 200 people allowed inside the hall. Arrangements would be made for others to watch the proceedings on large TV screens at the nearby Pieter Roos Park. Zuma’s supporters, mobilising themselves as “radical economic transformation (RET) champions”, hail mainly from KwaZulu-Natal and are expected to turn up in large numbers at the commission venue. The group religiously support the former president at his court appearances in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where he faces corruption and racketeering charges relating to the multibillion-rand arms procurement deal in 1999.
His other supporters include the Black First Land First, some members of the MKMVA, chairperson of Parliament’s cooperative governance portfolio committee Faith Muthambi, and former cooperative governance minister Des van Rooyen.
– African News Agency