South Africa's ruling party secrets emerge in Zuma hearing

Monday July 15 2019

Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma appearing before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on July 15, 2019 in Johannesburg. Mr Zuma has given a signal that his testimony will not be comfortable for the ruling ANC whose operatives he accuses of extortion, espionage and assassination attempts on him. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PETER DUBE
By PETER DUBE
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Former South Africa president Jacob Zuma gave a signal on his first day of testimony at the Commission of Inquiry on State Capture that he would go down fighting, dragging the ruling African National Congress along.

From a decades old conspiracy to silence him to bribery within the party for political posts and how he had a dossier on every politician from his days as the party's intelligence chief, Mr Zuma appeared to dare the party to a credibility contest.

Reactions came swiftly with ANC bigwigs Penuell Maduna and Ngoako Ramatlhodi who Mr Zuma accused of bribery and espionage, respectively, charging him of perjury.

They hit back at the former president asking him to prove the allegations, including by going through a lie detector.

Mr Zuma has long been painted as the heart beat of what has come to be known as ‘state capture’, the holding of government by corrupt forces out to make a fortune out of public projects.

On Monday, he told the commission that there had been a coordinated plan by ANC spies to bring him down since the Apartheid era when he headed the now ruling party's intelligence wing.

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Mr Zuma, who resigned from the presidency before the end of his second term in office, believes he has been vilified and portrayed as ‘king of the corrupt’ by sinister forces within the party.

In giving background to the evidence he will give during his five-day appearance, Mr Zuma said former justice minister Mr Maduna asked a South African businessman Mzi Khumalo for money to entice him to retire from politics.

He mentioned a figure of R20 million ($1.44 million) and believes the business man's decision to turn down the offer made him a target.
Mr Maduna responded swiftly to the allegations which he termed a “blatant lie”.

“This is the first time this suggestion has come up. It is a blatant lie. I never asked Mzi (Khumalo) for a cent for anyone, not even for myself,” Mr Maduna said.

Mr Maduna and Mr Khumalo shared a prison cell in Pietermaritzburg in the 1970s before the later was moved to the famous Robben Island in Cape Town where former statesman Nelson Mandela was also detained.

Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who served under Mr Zuma’s cabinet, was also quick to dismiss Mr Zuma’s claims.

Mr Ramatlhodi accused Mr Zuma of “auctioning the country” to an Indian family, the Guptas, when giving evidence before the same commission recently.

“Comrade Ngoako is carrying out an instruction. He was recruited when he was a student in Lesotho to be a spy. I have known him for many years, what he is, but never showed it. I thought he would change,” said Mr Zuma.

Mr Ramatlhodi denied the allegations saying he was ready to subject himself to a lie detector test and would challenge his former boss to do the same.

“It will not go uncontested. He must prove it. I have never been a spy anywhere. I am going to put him through a lie detector and I am going to go through the lie detector before the commission - both of us,” Mr Ramatlhodi said

Mr Zuma is likely to face more backlash after naming a few other individuals, claiming they were part of the conspiracy against him.

He named influential businessman Johann Rupert as having threatened to “shut down the country” if President Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

Mr Zuma said he received the threat through transport minister, Fikile Mbalula.

Mr Zuma eventually sacked Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle on March 31, 2017.

Mr Zuma also narrated how he survived a poisoning attempt and how killers were flown in from overseas in a plot to assassinate him in Durban.

A similar story is detailed in Gayton McKenzie’s book, “Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary”.
The commission heard that there had been many futile attempts on his life, the most recent at a music concert in Durban.

“Just recently there was a function in Durban where the maskandis wanted to fill the stadium. Some of those people planned to murder me inside the stadium. I know them," Mr Zuma said.

He added that he only survived because he did not go to the stadium.

"What saved my life is I did not go there. People have been sent from outside the country to come and kill me but I have been patient, not saying a thing,” Mr Zuma said.

He claimed the attempts were meant to silence him before he tells the story.

“The plan to kill me in Durban was very detailed. It involved people who are suicidal bombers from outside. For me the matter is bigger than it meets the eye.”
Mr Zuma will have a lot of questions coming his way on his alleged role in the state capture.
He was accused during proceedings at the commission of accepting at least R300 million ($21.6 million) in bribes by ex-Bosasa chief Angelo Agrizzi at the same commission.
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas also made claims that he was offered a R600 million ($43.2 million) bribe by the Guptas, who had been sent by Mr Zuma.

The wealthy family allegedly planned to influence his promotion to become finance minister and in turn reward them with multimillion rand government contracts.

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