All the Gupta puppets: players who sold SA

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Friday released a withering report in his latest instalment of how state capture took root during former president Jacob Zuma’s rule.

We today publish a gallery of all the rogues fingered in state capture and what Zondo has recommended about their future.

Jacob Zuma

The former president of South Africa enabled his family friends, the Gupta family, to have free reign at state-owned utility Eskom and in appointing and dismissing ministers.

Zondo said the Guptas’ influence on Zuma was evident when he overlooked competent ANC leaders to appoint Mosebenzi Zwane as mineral resources minister in 2015.

Zondo was damning of Zuma: “Central to the Guptas’ scheme of state capture was former president Zuma, who the Guptas must have identified at a very early stage as somebody whose character was such that they could use him against the people of South Africa, his own country and his own government to advance their own business interests, and Zuma readily opened the doors for the Guptas to go into the SOEs (state-owned entities) and help themselves to the money and assets of the people of South Africa.”

  • Zondo believes that it is “almost a miracle” that the National Treasury was saved from the tentacles of the Guptas.

“I shudder to think what would have happened to this country if Zuma was not forced to move Mr. Des Van Rooyen and his advisors out of the National Treasury and if Mr. Van Rooyen and his advisors had been allowed to continue in the National Treasury.”

The Guptas and Zuma’s failure to capture Treasury was due to the resistance of former finance ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan as well as the officials at the Treasury. “The country should be grateful to all of them,” said Zondo.

  • “Zuma’s interference in the affairs of the board marked the beginning of the implementation of the Guptas’ plan to capture Eskom and Zuma was a critical player in that plan.”
  • Zondo also commented on the removal of former minerals resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi. “It is plain and clear that former president Jacob Zuma replaced Ngoako Ramatlhodi as mineral resources minister because he refused to co-operate with the Gupta family’s wishes. “Minister Ramatlhodi had consistently refused to have anything to do with the Guptas and was not prepared to do any favours for the Guptas.

“On all the evidence, that is probably why president Zuma removed him as minister of mineral resources and deceptively said to him he was promoting him to the position of minister of public service and administration.”

ANC and Ace Magashule

Zondo was equally scathing of the governing party. “The only organisation that would have been able to remove Mr. Magashule as premier on the grounds that he had failed to show leadership as premier and to monitor and supervise effectively the performance of Mr Zwane, would have been the ANC, which was responsible for his election by the majority of members of the legislature as premier.”

  • “The ANC has given the people of the Free State Mr. Zwane and it is the ANC which gave them the premier [Ace Magashule], who failed to intervene when Mr. Zwane and his department wasted more than R500-million of taxpayers’ money which was meant to be used to build low-cost houses for poor people in the Free State.
  • On the ANC’s role in the capture of Eskom, Zondo said: “The ANC should be ashamed of the way they relinquished power over one of the most important parts of South Africa’s economy to a private family. By mid-2015, Eskom was under the control of the Gupta family, said Zondo.

“South Africans thought that the ANC government was in control of Eskom but it was not. It had relinquished the control to the Guptas and those people the Guptas wanted.

The ANC and the ANC government should be ashamed that this happened under their watch. The question that the people of South Africa are entitled to ask is: Where was the ANC as the Guptas took control of important SOEs such as Transnet, Eskom and Denel?”

Mosebenzi Zwane

The ANC NEC member drew flak on two fronts; his role in an R1-billion Free State housing tender when we were MEC, and his stint as minister of minerals. Testimony was previously led that Zwane approved an illegal R600-million prepayment to contractors. Zondo recommended that authorities should consider criminally charging him.

Zondo said it could be safely concluded that Zwane was a “Gupta minister”.

“It is quite clear on the evidence that Zwane was appointed minister of mineral resources because the Guptas wanted him to be appointed to that position or because of his connection with the Guptas,” Zondo found.

“Mr. Zwane had no previous experience of being a Member of Parliament, he had no prior exposure or experience in mining or mineral resources and had never been a minister before.

“His record as a MEC in the Free State provincial government was dismal and there is no way Zuma would have chosen him because he thought he would do a better job as minister of mineral resources.”

Zondo said Zuma’s decision to replace Ramatlhodi with Zwane as mineral resources minister was most likely influenced by the Guptas. “Zwane had co-operated with the Guptas while serving as MEC in the Free State provincial government… and he was brought specially into the National Assembly so President Zuma could appoint him as minister of mineral resources,” the report stated.

Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and Matshela Koko

Zondo has put the total cost of contracts at Eskom that have been impacted by state capture to R14.7-billion and put most of the blame at the door of the trio.

He said Molefe, Singh, and Koko” used their positions of authority and power within Eskom to benefit Trillian, a corrupt activity under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. They all benefitted from the Guptas, according to Zondo.

“In the result, it is recommended that the law enforcement agencies should conduct such further investigation as may be necessary with a view to the possible criminal prosecution of the implicated parties by the National Prosecuting Authority for their part in facilitating the fraud, corruption, and financial misconduct against Eskom and the state.”

“All those Eskom officials who were party to, or facilitated the acquisition by bringing pressure to bear on Glencore to dispose of its coal interests to the Guptas and were party to or facilitated the payment of this very large sum of R659-million and the R1.68-billion guarantee are prima facie guilty of theft and ought to face criminal charges for such corruption-related conduct,” he found.

“The recommendation for criminal charges is particularly applicable to Mr. Singh and Mr. Koko, who by false pretences led Eskom, through the officials who processed the R659-million payment, to believe that the R659-million payment was in the nature of prepayment for coal, as was the R1.68-billion prepayment, later converted into a guarantee, when in truth and fact they knew that the prepayment and the guarantee were needed to enable the Guptas to complete and save the sale of the share transaction.”

Zondo said Molefe and Koko used their positions to “collude with the Guptas and Mr. Salim Essa in a scheme to pressurise Glencore into the sale of OCH to the Guptas through a series of cumulative actions that made it impossible for Glencore to have any prospect of running the OCM mine sustainably as they continued to supply coal to Eskom”.

“This was against all advice from technical and legal staff, and ultimately the interest of Eskom as it endangered its own coal supply for its power stations.”

Salim Essa

The Gupta lieutenant brazenly coordinated billions of rand in tenders for the Gupta empire across SOEs.

Lynne Brown

Zondo found that former minister of public enterprises Lynn Brown was a Gupta associate and that “the Guptas had the minister responsible for Eskom on their side.”

Zondo further said it was apparent that “Mr Jacob Zuma, and minister Brown were manipulating the situation at Eskom to advance the business interests of the Guptas.”

Zondo further said it was likely that the Guptas had a hand in the appointment of Brown as minister of public enterprises in May 2014.

Edwin Sodi

The controversial businessman at the centre of the R255-million Free State asbestos scandal. Sodi made questionable payments to ANC leaders and government senior officials.

Ben Ngubane

The late Eskom chairperson did not live to see the release of the damning Zondo Commission report, which described him as a key enabler and facilitator of state capture at the
power producer.

Zondo found that Ngubane, an Eskom board member from December 2014 until June 2017, had a link to Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa.

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