Zuma's Son Agrees to Testify Before South African Graft Inquiry

(Bloomberg) -- Duduzane Zuma, the son of former South African President Jacob Zuma, agreed to testify at a judicial inquiry that’s investigating allegations of corruption in the country during his father’s tenure.

Mcebisi Jonas, a former deputy finance minister, told the panel last month that Duduzane helped arrange a meeting between him and members of the Gupta family, during which he was offered the post of finance minister and a 600 million rand ($39.6 million) bribe in exchange for business concessions. Jonas refused, and was warned he would be killed if he spoke of the proposal.

While Duduzane initially refused to appear before the commission to give his side of the story because he faced criminal prosecution, he has since changed his mind, Paul Pretorius, the head of the panel’s legal team, said at the hearing in Johannesburg on Monday. A date has yet to be set for his testimony.

The three Gupta brothers have faced a slew of accusations that they used their close ties to Zuma and his son to influence cabinet appointments and the awarding of state contracts, a process that’s become known locally as state capture. Thuli Madonsela, the nation’s former anti-graft ombudsman, ordered the judicial probe be set up after her own investigation suggested the relationships were suspicious -- a view born out by most witnesses to have testified so far.

Jan Gilliland, a National Treasury official, told the panel on Monday that media companies founded by the Guptas had earned about 260.3 million rand ($17.2 million) in advertising from the government. The payments to firms that controlled the ANN7 television station and New Age newspaper accelerated dramatically from 2011 and peaked at 66.2 million rand in 2016, he said.

Previous witnesses have testified how Gupta allies secured control over key posts in the government communications service and then directed advertising to the family’s media interests. The family sold the businesses last year to a company owned by Mzwanele Manyi, the former head of the government communications service. They have since shut down.

Zuma, who quit under pressure from the ruling party in February, his son, the Guptas and Manyi have all denied wrongdoing.

The judicial panel, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, expects to take two years to complete its work. Public hearings are set to resume on Sept. 12, when former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan is due to testify.

The ruling African National Congress is urging its members who have knowledge of wrongdoing to submit evidence to the commission, Zizi Kodwa, a member of the party’s national executive committee, told reporters.

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