It reads like a playbook on how to corrupt a government.
Scandals and a systematic process of ridding key personnel from important government departments and lucrative state-owned enterprises, then replacing them with close allies and pliant officials were hallmarks of Jacob Zuma’s nine-year term as president of South Africa, a damning report has found.
In his mammoth 874-page report into allegations of high-level corruption under Zuma, Judge Raymond Zondo found that the former president advanced the interests of the Indian-born Gupta family and close allies at the expense of the people of South Africa.
Both Zuma and the Gupta family have previously denied any wrongdoing.
The inquiry found there were patterns of abuse at every stage of public procurement and that governance had collapsed at state companies.
The process, referred to as “state capture”, describes a form of corruption in which businesses and politicians conspire to influence a country’s decision-making process to advance their own interests.
The Guptas, who moved to South Africa in 1993, owned a wide-ranging portfolio of companies that enjoyed lucrative contracts with South African government departments and state-owned companies.
They also employed several Zuma family members – including the president’s son, Duduzane – in senior positions.
Tax authority targeted
Justice Zondo found that the South African Revenue Services (Sars), once regarded as a world-class tax institution, was one of the key departments targeted for state capture because “its investigatory and enforcement capacity was a hurdle to people involved in organized crime”.
Under the leadership of Tom Moyane, a Zuma ally, the institution was systematically and deliberately weakened, the report found.
More than 2,000 highly skilled senior staff members were lost, including investigators who were hounded out through a pervasive culture of fear and bullying.