Former South African President Jacob Zuma plans to challenge the findings of a court report into rampant corruption during his nine-year term, his spokesman said on Saturday.
Mzwanele Manyi, spokesman for the Zuma Foundation, told a news conference in northern Johannesburg that the ex-leader viewed the Zondo Commission’s 5,600-page report as “illegal and highly irrational”.
Manyi added that the investigation into an estimated $30 billion theft from state-owned companies was “full of innuendo, gossip and speculation” and “very poor in concrete evidence”. .
Zuma stayed away from the press conference on the advice of his legal team as he remains on parole.
Zuma’s son Duduzane worked for the Gupta tycoons
The 80-year-old former president had personally set up the inquiry committee in 2018. The inquiry, led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had been sparked by an earlier report which detailed the shocking scale of corruption in state enterprises.
The new report, which took four years to complete and published on Wednesday, accused Zuma of being “a key player” in a corruption plot that has seen public companies raided for private gain.
Companies affected include power utility company Eskom, rail, port and pipeline operator Transnet, and national airline South African Airways, among others.
According to the report, the beneficiaries included the Gupta family of business tycoons, which employed Zuma’s son, Duduzane.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (right) received the final report from Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday
Duduzane became the “conduit” in the graft scheme and Zuma “would do whatever the Guptas wanted him to do for them”, the results showed.
The Guptas are said to have influenced top-level cabinet appointments and struck business deals with giant state-owned companies on highly favorable terms.
Two of the Gupta brothers, who fled the country the same year the corruption investigation began, were arrested earlier this month in Dubai and are set to be extradited to South Africa.
Local media said the findings of the investigation will help prosecutors solve cases of fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes against several wealthy individuals.
The investigation incriminated 1,438 people and institutions, including Zuma and his party the African National Congress (ANC).
He also criticized the party once led by Nelson Mandela. If the ANC hadn’t protected Zuma, the Guptas probably would have fled the country sooner and wouldn’t have looted as much as they did, the survey found.
Ex-leader helped then obstructed probe
Zuma first testified before the commission, to rule out further cooperation.
He then ignored summonses and an order from the South African Constitutional Court to testify, which led to a 15-month prison sentence for contempt.
Last July, he was arrested to serve his sentence but released after two months on medical parole.
His conviction sparked riots that resulted in the deaths of more than 350 people – the deadliest unrest of South Africa’s democratic era.
With material from Agence France-Presse
Edited by: Darko Janjevic