Zondo: ANC should 'take responsibility' for protecting Zuma, Guptas in Parliament

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  • The ANC caucus should have given former president Jacob Zuma the boot in 2013 already, the Zondo Commission has found.
  • The commission says billions of rand could have been saved if the ANC did not block parliamentary inquiries into the Guptas.
  • Zondo says the ANC should take responsibility for this.

The Zondo Commission condemned ANC parliamentary caucuses during the state capture era for not inquiring into the allegations of the Guptas' undue influence and its unwillingness to hold corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma to account.

On Wednesday evening, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo finally handed over the final parts of his commission's reports to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Like their predecessors, Part 5 and Part 6 proved to be grim reading for the ANC and several of its high-profile members, including Ramaphosa, who the commission found could have limited the damage caused by state capture had he "acted with more urgency".

Similarly, the commission found if the ANC in Parliament did not oppose the establishment of parliamentary inquiries into state capture, the "Guptas agenda of state capture" could have been scuppered and saved the taxpayers billions of rand.

Ditto if they booted Zuma out through the eight motions of no confidence he faced.

READ | Jacob Zuma damned SA to state capture, but Ramaphosa could have weakened its grip - Zondo

"What needs to be said about the ANC and its contribution to state capture is that it opposed proposals by opposition parties for Parliament to establish public inquiries to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the Guptas and yet it did not itself make any investigations because it said it did not have the capacity to investigate the allegations against President Zuma and the Guptas," the report read.

In that way, the Guptas continued to pursue state capture to the detriment of the people of South Africa. If the ANC had not opposed the establishment of those inquiries, the Guptas' agenda of state capture could have been stopped and South Africa might not have lost the billions of rand that it lost.

The commission found if the ANC caucus had not protected Zuma and removed him from office; the Guptas would probably have fled South Africa, as they did in 2018, "and therefore would not have looted the way they did".

"The ANC's further contribution to state capture is that when opposition parties tabled motions of no confidence in President Zuma because of the allegations of corruption and state capture and what the Guptas were reported to be doing such as summoning ministers to their home, the ANC protected President Zuma and ensured that he remained in office as president which also meant that the Guptas got more time to pursue state capture and continued to loot taxpayers' money."

Zondo said the ANC must take responsibility for this.

READ | News24's coverage of the state capture inquiry

The commission added the latest the ANC should have realised the Guptas had an improper grip on the state was when their wedding guests were allowed to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.       

This was also when they should have removed Zuma, according to it.

What the commission did not mention in its report is not only did the ANC caucus not remove Zuma in 2013, but it also again elected him president the following year after the general elections.

It noted ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe's testimony, where he said the ANC's integrity committee recommended Zuma should step down. The ANC ignored this recommendation.

"Had it followed it, billions of rand of taxpayer's money would have been saved," read the report.

The ANC did not tender any evidence as to why it failed to act on its integrity committee's recommendation.

READ | Zondo on Gupta Waterkloof landing: It's hard to believe Zuma was in the dark

The commission noted there was no parliamentary inquiry into the Guptas' undue influence in 2013, or indeed before mid-2017, and found it "difficult to accept" MPs did not have sufficient cause to probe improper Gupta influence by 2013 at the latest.

It said during his almost two full terms in office, there were eight motions of no confidence in Zuma. None, however, succeeded.

"All ANC MPs were instructed by the party to vote against these motions and by and large they did so.

"The truth of the matter, it seems, is that the ANC as an organisation [and, therefore, because of the ANC's internal rules and practices, its Members of Parliament] was unwilling before mid-2017 to initiate or to support a parliamentary inquiry or inquiries into the allegations concerned.           

"The allegations implicated senior ANC leaders, right up to the president, as well as others regarded by the ANC as cadres and deployees. The leadership of the ANC remained committed to support President Zuma and these cadres and deployees, and was unwilling to expose the allegations of malfeasance to transparent public scrutiny."

The commission said things changed somewhat by mid-2017 because the "balance of power" in the ANC had shifted.

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