Fingers Point at Ex-President Zuma in South African Graft Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Accusations are stacking up that former South African President Jacob Zuma directly helped to orchestrate the plunder of billions of rand of taxpayer funds during his almost nine-year tenure.

A judicial commission probing the alleged theft has heard damning testimony from several senior officials in Zuma’s administration about how he enabled members of the Gupta family, who were his friends and in business with his son, to influence who was appointed to key state posts and won government contracts. Zuma, who was forced to step down in February by the ruling party, his son and the Guptas have all repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

These are some of the main allegations against the ex-president:

  • Themba Maseko, the former head of the government communications service, said Zuma phoned to ask him to help the Guptas, and he was fired on the then-president’s instructions after he refused to give them advertising contracts.
  • Former lawmaker Vytjie Mentor testified that the Guptas offered her the post of public enterprises minister in exchange for business concessions. Zuma was present at their home at the time but wasn’t there when the offer was made, and did nothing when she told him what had happened, she said.
  • Barbara Hogan, who served as Zuma’s public enterprises minister, said he undermined her authority and ignored due process when he sought to influence the appointment of top officials at state companies.
  • Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan accused Zuma of misleading and lying to members of his own cabinet so state funds could be used for the benefit of a few families and individuals.
  • Lungisa Fuzile, a former director-general at the National Treasury, said Zuma sought to appoint a pliable finance minister in a bid to secure greater control over state finances.

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