Johannesburg, Sep 2 (PTI): State capture can happen again if the majority party in Parliament keeps acting in the way it did in the Gupta brothers’ case, South African Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said.
“Our country was captured for private purposes, and in the process, billions and billions of taxpayers’ money was stolen,” he said at a summit hosted by a media house on Thursday.
“There were allegations that the Gupta family was exercising undue influence on the head of state, and through their proximity to him, influencing decisions in the government and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that were aimed ultimately at them and their entities enriching themselves unlawfully,” Zondo said as he explained the evidence that emerged at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
The commission has recommended criminal charges against the Gupta brothers and others for their role in looting billions.
“There may be different forms of state capture, but what we heard in the case of the Gupta family and the then head of state (Jacob Zuma) and the activities in which they engaged, which included dismissal and suspensions of various government officials and those in SOEs and replacing them with certain others preferred by the Gupta family. The manner in which it was done, it was definitely state capture.
“It is public knowledge that long before Mr Zuma became the head of state, the Gupta family had a close relationship with him and his family. When one examines their relationship, it seems quite clear that this was a well-designed scheme by the Gupta family, with the assistance of the head of state, that was aimed at advancing the business interests of the Gupta family and Mr Zuma’s own son, who was in business with them,” Zondo said.
“The evidence that was led in the commission was quite clear – that Parliament had all the powers to stop it, but it did not stop it because the majority party in Parliament did not want to stop it.
“Many times, opposition parties tabled motions for the establishment of inquiries to look into the allegations of the influence of the Guptas on the President, but the majority party did not allow it,” he said.
Motions of ‘no confidence’ in the President as a way of wanting to stop this were also blocked by the majority party, Zondo added.
The chief justice said he doubted whether the majority party would act any differently if a similar situation of state capture were to happen again. He made a plea for more involvement at all levels to interrogate this possibility for the future of the country. PTI FH IJT
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