South africa begins probe of corruption in zuma era

Former President Jacob Zuma

Former President Jacob Zuma

Zuma's successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has promised to crack down on allegations of government corruption; however the inquiry may do even more damage to the reputation of the ruling ANC party. And he could end up implicating members of his own African National Congress (ANC) party.

Among other allegations, the commission will investigate whether former president Jacob Zuma and board members of state-owned enterprises illegally awarded tenders to benefit the Guptas.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma dances after his court appearance in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, July 27, 2018.

"It is important that we find out who's the culprits and that the recommendations by the inquiry can be made and that we, in a year or two years' time, can put this state capture behind us", he said.

Mentor has claimed she was offered the public enterprise minister post by the Gupta family at their Saxonwold home in Johannesburg‚ with Zuma present in the house.

It stems from a 2016 report into alleged influence-peddling by the Public Protector, South Africa's main anti-graft authority.

Speaking on the first day of the inquiry, head of legal into the commission, Advocate Paul Pretorius, outlined several of the focus points that the inquiry will be dealing with, including whether or not former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas were offered cabinet positions and money by the Guptas in exchange for their political influence.

The hearings of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector begin on Monday.

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Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

"If this commission is to do its job properly, we need evidence", he said.

Although the inquiry does not have powers to arrest or prosecute, it can refer matters for possible criminal investigation.

Pravin Gordhan, a former finance minister, but now responsible for state companies, has estimated that around 100 billion rand ($6.8 billion) of state funds may have been looted through corrupt practices.

Zuma says the three Gupta brothers - Atul, Ajay and Rajesh - are his friends but he denies any influence-peddling in their relationship.

The local Sunday Times newspaper reported Zuma had been invited to appear - but the commission's spokesman declined to comment.

The former president has separately been charged with 16 counts of graft linked to an arms deal from before he became president and will next appear in court on November 30 as the criminal case against him continues.

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