JOHANNESBURG – Another damning report into government corruption in South Africa has recommended further investigations and the possible prosecution of former President Jacob Zuma, current and former cabinet ministers and senior leaders of the ruling African National Congress party for allegedly receiving bribes.
It's the third report to come from three years of investigations, testimonies and cross-examination of witnesses and whistleblowers. The inquiry has exposed extensive graft under Zuma at the top levels of government in Africa's most developed economy.
The latest report was published Tuesday and has been handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In the report, Zuma, current ANC chairperson and energy minister Gwede Mantashe and former cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane are among those who allegedly received “gratifications” from the controversial security company Bosasa so it could maintain its grasp on state contracts.
Some of the bribes came in the form of monthly payments to the Jacob Zuma Foundation and the sponsorship of Zuma’s lavish birthday parties.
Zuma was president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018 before he was forced to step down by his ANC party amid allegations of corruption, which led to the establishment of the commission to investigate. He is currently standing trial on other corruption charges that are unrelated to the commission.
Previous reports from the commission of inquiry have been similarly damning and have accused Zuma and other senior government officials of taking bribes to award lucrative state contracts to other corrupt businessmen.
“The evidence reveals that there was widespread corruption in the awarding of contracts and tenders to Bosasa," the latest report said. “There is sufficient evidence to establish that Mr. Zuma accepted gratification from another person. i.e Bosasa or its directors or employees, which held and sought to obtain contracts with government.”
Zuma has denied the allegations and has criticized the commission, saying he had not been given the chance to state his side of the story. His foundation said he had been denied “the most basic rights to be heard.”
Zuma, 79, was subpoenaed to testify at the commission's hearings but walked out midway through his testimony and refused to appear again, resulting in him being sentenced to 15 months in jail last year for contempt of court. He was released on medical parole after serving two months, although that decision is being challenged in court on the grounds that it didn't follow proper procedures.
The intrigue over Bosasa's allegedly corrupt relationship with Zuma and other senior government figures deepened when the company's CEO was killed in a car crash just months after the first revelations. A private pathologist found he was already dead before the car he was in slammed into a pillar.