[imagesource: Alon Skuy / The Times]
We are nearing the home stretch of the seemingly never-ending Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, known as the Zondo Commission.
By some estimates, by the time it wraps up later this year, the Zondo Commission will have cost around R1 billion, and there has yet to be a single prosecution.
However, day in and day out, we have heard explosive stories of State Capture, and greed, and corruption of the highest order, whilst others that have appeared before Judge Zondo have chosen to refuse to answer questions.
One of those who chose to remain mum on certain matters was former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who refused to answer Zondo commission questions on allegations contained in the #GuptaLeaks e-mails.
Judge Zondo made it clear that refusing to air his side of the story could count against Zwane down the line.
Perhaps the standout exchange of the day came when Zwane tried to defend why he took trips on the Gupta family’s private jet back in 2015, having attended meetings in Switzerland with Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg.
This from TimesLIVE:
Zwane said he had hitched a flight with the Gupta brothers to India because he was sick, struggling with a condition in his throat which was worsened by the cold weather in Switzerland…
Zwane told the inquiry he was supposed to meet potential investors in India but he struggled to explain why he could not just fly back home given his condition, which he said sometimes caused him to completely lose his voice…
“How was it going to help you travelling with Tony Gupta in terms of your voice, instead of taking the flight that had been booked for you and paid for by government?” asked Zondo.
“Because you were so sick, why didn’t you just go home?” asked Zondo.
Zondo pointed out that meeting with investors is tricky if one has lost their voice, which is a far more polite response than the average South African would have mustered.
Zwane says that whilst he was in India, he had an operation on his throat in a public hospital, adding that he paid for it himself.
He then hopped back on the Gupta private jet en route to Dubai, and returned to South Africa on a commercial flight.
Here’s a fun fact – Zwane helped establish a gospel choir in the Free State, and actually featured on two songs from its album, before his voice “went”.
For a brief look at why Zwane was being put through the wringer, here’s The Daily Maverick:
Zwane served in multiple MEC positions under former Free State premier Ace Magashule before he was appointed by Zuma as mineral resources minister, a position he held from 2015 to 2018.
He has previously been questioned at the commission about his role in a failed R1-billion Free State housing scheme and the closure of the Guptas’ bank accounts. He’s implicated in the Free State government’s Estina Dairy scandal and its asbestos removal programme.
If you served in any capacity with Ace Magashule, during his reign of absolute self-enrichment at all costs as Premier of the Free State, your hands are likely dirty.
Zwane has denied that he had any personal relationship with the Guptas, and denied that he benefitted in any way from his dealings with the Guptas.
I’m sure Malusi Gigaba will say the same, although his estranged wife, Norma Mngoma, has not been shy of spilling some very expensive beans this week.
Later today, President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to testify at the commission, which should make for some interesting, and depressing, viewing.
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