Zuma: "This Commission Was Created to Find Things On Me"
By Musa Mdunge
Former president Jacob Zuma appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo.
Zuma's appearance before the Zondo commission has long been awaited, as in the days leading up to his appearance Zuma alluded that he was ready to speak out against accusations made about him but also exposes his political foes.
His official meeting with the ANC's Secretary-General, Ace Magashule was an attempt by Zuma to prepare his party for what he was about to say in the commission rather than a consultative process as some in the media have alluded too.
During his open address Zuma stated that to understand why he stands first accused as the man at the centre of "state capture" it began during the 1980s talks with the Apartheid regime- popularly referred to as the "talks before the talks".
Zuma underscored that given his role within the ANC's liberation struggle as its Intelligence boss and role he played in the talks, he was of the view that there has been a drive to remove him from the scene by intelligence agencies controlled by Apartheid handlers, with the help of foreign powers, mainly the United States.
Zuma was visibly comfortable and, in some points, showed his anger at what he viewed was his victimisation. He spoke about how during the 1991 ANC Elective conference there moves to discredit him in his bid to be ANC's Deputy Secretary-General. Moreover, he spoke about how his removals as ANC's intelligence head and Thabo Mbeki's removal as the head of ANC's negotiation team, was linked to spies in the National Working Committee to remove those who would undermine their objectives.
Upon Zuma setting up the context of his testimony and in a bid to present himself as a victim and bestow upon himself as a martyr, Zuma attacked the controversies that have defined his relationship with the Gupta family and defined his legacy as president of South Africa and the ANC.
Zuma underlined his distaste for references to the state being captured, arguing that state capture would mean that all the arms of the state, mainly, the executive, judiciary and Parliament but according to him the matters under the Zondo commission were "basic corruption matters"
On his relationship with the Guptas. Zuma states that members of the Gupta family were brought to see him by Dr Essop Pahad the than Minister in the Presidency after they had met with Mbeki. Moreover, he stated that he met them while they were advising President Mbeki in the International investment council. Moreover, highlighting that the Guptas were even close to Nelson Mandela. However, while he accepted, he shared a friendship, but he denied any illegal activities with him. He also justified how his son, Duduzane Zuma ended partnering with them after he failed to find work given his association with Zuma as his father.
He argued that while the accusations against him have been plentiful no concrete evidence has been given to him or presented in the public eye. Moreover, Zuma highlighted that beyond his suggestion to them to open a media business that would support the country's bid to improve its reputation, he did not give any contracts or allow the Guptas any say in the appointment of cabinet ministers.
Zuma repeatedly through his open statement, highlighted that he was tired of being victimised and would reveal all about the plans and schemes of his political foes.
There is no doubt in mind that while Zuma's testimony is welcomed for the country, it could be the undoing of Ramaphosa's goal to unite the party and may strengthen the Zuma camp to the detriment of Ramaphosa. I have no doubt that the Union Building will remain tense for the rest of the weak.