Former president Jacob Zuma arrived in a convoy of vehicles at the Johannesburg venue where he will be asked to answer to allegations of state capture.
Few people had arrived to hear what Zuma will say to the commission of inquiry looking into the allegations‚ with most seats unoccupied when he arrived on Monday morning.
Proceedings are set to get under way at 10am.
— Iavan Pijoos (@iavanpijoos) July 15, 2019
The commission had made provision for 200 people to gain access to the room where the ex-president has been asked to make representations‚ following accusations made against him.
Former finance minister Des van Rooyen was among “members of the public” to arrive early.
Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association leader Kebby Maphatsoe and Carl Niehaus‚ a spokesperson for the MK vets‚ were also among the early arrivals at the Parktown venue. Niehaus was wearing a suit‚ not the military gear he often selects for public appearances.
Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene on December 9 2015 and replaced him with the then little-known ANC backbencher Van Rooyen. The rand crashed 2.5% on the pound and 1.39% on the dollar after Nene’s removal was announced. Van Rooyen was finance minister for four days until Zuma reportedly caved in to pressure from some ANC members and returned Pravin Gordhan to the position.
Lungisa Fuzile‚ who once served as the director-general of the national treasury‚ previously told the state capture commission that a suspected Gupta family ally‚ who was parachuted into his office as Van Rooyen’s adviser‚ had acted as a law unto himself‚ handing out instructions to senior officials even before Van Rooyen was sworn in as finance minister.
He also detailed how after just three minutes of having received a confidential national treasury report‚ Van Rooyen’s advisers had forwarded the document to the Guptas’ business associates.
Lawyers acting on Van Rooyen’s behalf approached the commission for leave to cross-examine Fuzile and for Van Rooyen to give evidence. However‚ commission chairman deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo indicated that after reading Van Rooyen’s statement to the commission‚ he had asked for a supplementary affidavit‚ which deals with allegations that the former minister was placed at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound numerous times before he was appointed.
On Monday‚ Van Rooyen told reporters he was not privy to Zuma’s preparations with his legal team and‚ as a result‚ was unsure what would transpire when the former president appeared at the commission.
Asked if he thought Zuma had a case to answer‚ Van Rooyen said: “Allegations have been made‚ so Mr Zuma will definitely clarify his side of the story.”
— Amil Umraw (@Amil_Umraw) July 15, 2019
MKMVA leader Kebby Maphatsoe told SowetanLIVE he believes there is no evidence against Zuma stemming from the testimony brought before the state capture commission.
Maphatsoe said the MK Military Veterans Association’s position to support the former president would not change as the commission had been used by people to “ventilate” their anger of Zuma.
“We took a resolution to support former president Jacob Zuma in 2005. We have been consistently supporting him. Today is the continuation of that – supporting one of us. He is a member of the association that I am leading. I am here to support him‚” he said.
“You had people who were angry‚ who wanted to ventilate their anger and hatred against Jacob Zuma. They used this platform of the Zondo commission to ventilate their hatred and anger. So far we’ve been listening to stories. There is nothing tangible that has been brought here. Nobody has said ‘here is the evidence – [the] former president did one‚ two and three’‚” Maphatsoe said.
Law-enforcement personnel gathered in large numbers at the venue for Zuma’s first appearance before the inquiry.
Security has been ramped up as both his supporters and detractors are expected to stage demonstrations outside the venue.
Police nyalas‚ a water cannon‚ police and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) cars are maintaining vigil outside the gates of the inquiry.
The area has been cordoned off‚ while officers direct traffic. All has been orderly so far.
Motorists are being stopped and questioned about where they are heading before being allowed through.
Several media houses have also set up cameras outside.
Zuma has denied involvement in state capture‚ but has been implicated directly by a number of key witnesses who have appeared before the commission.
The former president stands accused of having abused his executive powers by making decisions that allowed various government departments and state institutions to be repurposed and looted during his nine years in office.
One of the first witnesses to appear before the commission last year‚ former Government Communication and Information Systems boss Themba Maseko‚ alleged Zuma had instructed him to help the Guptas in their 2010 bid to redirect the GCIS’s entire R600m media advertising budget to the family’s media interests.
Zuma will also have to answer allegations by former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan and incumbent minister Pravin Gordhan. Hogan claimed Zuma had instructed her to withdraw information on certain issues in her reports to parliament and had insisted on appointments to the executives at state-owned entities.
Gordhan said he believed his sacking in 2016 was a move by Zuma to have court processes regarding the closing of Gupta-related bank accounts withdrawn.
ANC leaders who served under Zuma‚ like Vytjie Mentor and Ngoako Ramatlhodi‚ also exposed his relationship with the Gupta family.
The first indication that Zuma was receiving monetary benefit for abusing his state powers came from former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi‚ who told the commission that the then president was on the company’s pay roll.
Zuma allegedly received R300‚000 a month from Bosasa‚ paid in cash to Dudu Myeni‚ who chairs the board of the Jacob Zuma Foundation.
In exchange‚ Zuma is said to have used his influence to help effect legislative changes for Bosasa to do business and cripple investigations into the company by the Hawks.
The last person to implicate Zuma directly in wrongdoing at the commission was former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram‚ who appeared last month. ANN7 was a Gupta-owned TV news channel.
He described Zuma as the go-to guy for the Gupta brothers when they ran into problems with their Infinity Media assets‚ also keeping him in the loop‚ as one would a shareholder‚ about activities at ANN7. One of the main purposes of visiting Zuma‚ he alleged‚ was to secure advertising revenue for the Guptas’ media entities from various government departments.
It is unclear whether Zuma will provide any real answers to questions from the commission when he takes the stand. Through his lawyers‚ Zuma has previously slammed the commission as being “politicised” and biased against him.
The commission has set down the entire week for Zuma’s questioning.
Source: TMG Digital.