Rampant corruption under Zuma in South Africa detailed in new report

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Johannesburg (AFP) – South African investigators released a 646-page report on Tuesday detailing how rampant corruption under former President Jacob Zuma has undermined both state-owned logistics firm Transnet and state-owned arms firm Denel.

The report is the second of three expected volumes written by a special commission headed by the acting chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Raymond Zondo.

The first volume was delivered in early January and dealt with the corruption of the national airline South African Airways, the country’s tax and public procurement collector.

For 34 months, the Zondo commission heard accounts of rampant embezzlement from some of the 270 witnesses, including businessmen, government officials and intelligence agents.

Much of the evidence concerned a wealthy Indian immigrant family headed by three brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta – all accused of exercising undue influence over Zuma.

Zuma, 79, became South Africa‘s fourth post-apartheid president in May 2009, succeeding Thabo Mbeki.

But his presidency gained a reputation for corruption, with his cronies influencing government appointments, contracts and state enterprises.

The web-like process, known in South Africa as “state capture”, resulted in losses equivalent at the time to nearly $7 billion, according to an estimate by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, but now in charge of public enterprises. .

Zuma’s refusal to testify before the commission prompted the Constitutional Court to order his incarceration for contempt in July.

His imprisonment sparked violent protests that led to rioting and looting in his home region of KwaZulu-Natal and around Johannesburg.

More than 300 people have been killed in the deadliest unrest of South Africa’s democratic era.

Despite the reputation of his presidency, Zuma remains popular among many grassroots members of the African National Congress (ANC).

In a separate case, Zuma faces 16 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering related to a 1999 purchase of military equipment from five European arms companies when he was vice president.

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