State Capture: Zondo hears how Zuma was paid from intelligence slush fund for years

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Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Gallo Images/Sowetan/Thulani Mbele
  • Sydney Mufamadi, chairperson of the high-level review panel that investigated the SSA, gave explosive evidence at the State Capture Inquiry.
  • Mufamadi detailed a number of special operations projects, which included attempting to influence the media and hiring toxicologists to test Zuma's food and bedding.
  • Inquiry evidence leader Paul Pretorius says further evidence will be led in regard to what unnamed spies told the Mufamadi panel.

The State Capture Inquiry has heard explosive evidence that the State Security Agency (SSA) set aside millions of rands for alleged monthly payments to former president Jacob Zuma – and devised a project to bribe judges to rule in his favour.

The former chairperson of one of the most far-reaching inquiries into South Africa's deeply controversial SSA – Sydney Mufamadi – says his panel was told the agency paid Zuma millions in cash every month between 2015 and 2017, the last two years of his term in office.

Mufamadi was giving evidence at the State Capture Inquiry on Monday afternoon, where he has been testifying about the politicisation and factionalisation of the SSA during the Zuma administration.

READ | State capture commission will ask High Court for another extension

He said his panel had been given evidence about an SSA operation, called "Project Commitment", which, he said, "involved providing the then president with R2.5 million a month in the 2015/2016 financial year…and this amount was increased to R4.5 million a month in the 2016/2017 financial year".

"The allegation there, to the extent that we were told this, apparently this money was provided by then minister (of state security, David) Mahlobo," Mufamadi said.

Confirm

He stressed the source of the information had told the panel that he was certain the money had been given to Mahlobo, but he could not confirm that he had witnessed Zuma receiving it.

Mufamadi added that his panel had been told there were receipts for the money received by Mahlobo, but they had not seen it.

Evidence leader Paul Pretorius, on Monday afternoon, told the inquiry that "further evidence" would be led on this project.

Asked by Zondo if it was normal for the president to receive money from a minister, Mufamadi answered: "I must say that's unthinkable".

READ | Zuma refuses to appear before Zondo

Mufamadi also testified about "Project Justice", which he said was "a project that ostensibly involved recruiting and handling sources in the judiciary in order to influence the outcome of cases against [former] president Zuma".

He said:

"Information provided to the panel indicated that amounts of R1.2 million and R4.5 million were routinely given from the SSA and provided to Minister Mahlobo, whom it is said was responsible for handling these sources."

He added that the project was motivated by a "perceived need to counter the influence of judges hostile to [former] president Zuma", but stressed that the panel had not received any evidence that judges had, in fact, been bribed.

As a result, Mufamadi stressed that this testimony "should be treated with extreme caution".

"On a matter of this gravity, we must refuse to be gullible, because if we run ahead, we will put the house on fire," he said.

Mufamadi also detailed how his panel had received evidence that the SSA had planned to deal with bad publicity about South Africa, Zuma and the agency itself by infiltrating and influencing the media.

"They say the project was launched in the 2015/2016 financial year, with a budget of R24 million, and they say one of the largest amounts…was R20 million, given to a media agency, apparently for services rendered for eight months."

The agency in question, he said, was African News Agency, which was launched by the executive chairperson of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Surve, and the chairperson of the Pan African Business Forum, Ladislas Agbesi, in February 2015.

According to Mufamadi, his panel had also been informed that the SSA had devised a project aimed at the recruitment of toxicologists to test Zuma's food and bedding.

It had a R500 000 a month budget, which was subsequently increased to R1.5 million a month.

One of the fruits of this project, Pretorius said, was "to discover expired cooldrinks" in Zuma's pantry.

When Zuma was allegedly "poisoned" in 2014, it was the SSA who conducted an investigation into his wife, MaNtuli, who the National Prosecuting Authority elected not to charge, on the basis that there was no evidence against her.

The hearing continues.

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