South African leader gets final chapter of corruption report
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has received the final chapter of a report on an extensive judicial investigation into corruption.
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo handed over the last installment of the report, reportedly 1,000 pages long, to Ramaphosa. The earlier segments of the report have laid bare the rampant corruption in government and state-owned companies during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure from 2009 to 2018.
Speaking at the handover of the final chapter, Ramaphosa emphasized that he didn’t know what’s in the conclusion, not even the commission’s findings on his own testimony.
“Not for once has the chief justice even wanted to discuss the evidence that I have presented to the commission. And he has said that he has a chapter or so dealing with evidence that I presented at the commission but I don’t even know what that is because of the high regard I have for him,” said Ramaphosa.
“He could have made a negative finding against me, which I will accept,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa has already received four installments of the report which have been made public and have damning findings against politicians and business people linked to his ruling African National Congress party. The earlier parts of the report recommended that many people be criminally prosecuted.
The last segment of the report is expected to detail corruption in South Africa’s intelligence department, the State Security Agency, which was headed by former intelligence chief Arthur Fraser during Zuma’s tenure.
Fraser was later appointed head of the country’s prisons and controversially approved Zuma’s release from prison on medical parole. Zuma was he was jailed for refusing to testify before the judicial commission chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Fraser is currently at the center of the controversy engulfing Ramaphosa because he lodged a criminal complaint alleging that the president covered up the theft of about $4 million in foreign currency from his Phala Phala game farm in the northern Limpopo province.
The scandal — dubbed Phala Phala-gate in South Africa’s lively press — has tarnished Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption reputation and has prompted calls by opposition parties for him to step down.
The release of the final chapter of the report has been delayed as it was initially set to be handed over to Ramaphosa and released to the public last week, raising the ire of main opposition party Democratic Alliance.
The report is also expected to deal with allegations of wrongdoing at the country’s state-owned public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
The institution has already been fingered in wrongdoing by earlier versions of the report which dealt with how money flowed from the broadcaster and other state-owned companies to sponsor projects of The New Age newspaper, which was controlled by the controversial Gupta family.
Two brothers, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, were arrested in Dubai two weeks ago in connection with corruption charges against them in South Africa. South African authorities are expected to press for their extradition so they can stand trial in South Africa, where some of their associates are already facing corruption charges.
The Guptas allegedly used their close ties with Zuma to influence his cabinet appointments and to win lucrative contracts from government departments and state-owned companies.
By MOGOMOTSI MAGOME