Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has directly implicated Jacob Zuma in being part of an orchestrated campaign to loot billions of rand in taxpayer funds and decimate state institutions during his almost nine-year tenure as president.
Gordhan, who now oversees state companies, made the allegations in a statement to a judicial panel that’s investigating claims that members of the Gupta family exploited their close relationship with Zuma to influence cabinet appointments and raid public coffers. Zuma, who quit in February under pressure from the ANC, and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.
Gordhan, who is due to appear before the commission later this month, said his statement had been leaked to the media and declined to comment further.
The former finance minister revealed that he served for eight years in an administration that was misled, lied to and abused, so that state funds could be used for the benefit of a few families and individuals.
He said he was the target of a campaign that appeared aimed at forcing him to quit as finance minister, and he was subjected to harassment by law enforcement agencies and some media houses.
State capture became a sophisticated scheme that saw honest public servants being dismissed or sidelined, and created a climate of impunity in respect of crime and corruption, Gordhan said.
Zuma repeatedly changed his cabinet, the boards of state companies and the management of government institutions in order to take control of them, according to the minister. Those entities were then plundered without any risk of those responsible being prosecuted, he said.
Zuma ignored usual processes, including consulting with the cabinet, when he appointed his close ally Tom Moyane as head of the national tax agency in 2014. Moyane made serious allegations against Gordhan and refused to be accountable to him, while Zuma did nothing to intervene in their deteriorating relationship.
The former president pressured members of his administration to push through a deal to buy new nuclear plants from Russia but encountered resistance from Gordhan and the national treasury, which insisted on properly evaluating the true cost and risks. The cabinet eventually approved the nuclear programme, but it was derailed by a lawsuit filed by civil-rights groups. — Reported by Paul Vecchiatto and Sam Mkokeli, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP