It has been barely two weeks since former president Jacob Zuma stood on a truck that was converted into a mobile stage, facing dozens of his loyal supporters congregated at KwaZulu-Natal’s Freedom Park, situated directly opposite the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
As is his wont, he confidently proclaimed his innocence throughout his tenure as president.
“I have done nothing to anyone. There isn’t a shred of evidence indicating that I have done anything warranting the treatment I am receiving,” he said, referring to the charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering that he now faces.
“There were those among us who kept urging that I, while I was president, should institute a commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. They kept saying there was a worrisome family, the Gupta family. In their minds they thought that everyone who would appear before this commission would implicate Zuma, yet I have not once been implicated,” said the former president.
But in reality, the very commission that the former president claims has absolved him has been dominated by testimony alleging Zuma’s links to the infamous Gupta family and to various other business interests.
The evidence presented to the Zondo commission by Rajesh Sundaram, the former editor of the Gupta-owned TV news channel ANN7, was telling. Sundaram said Msholozi was more involved in the day-to-day running of the station than his son, who was one of the shareholders of the company that owned ANN7.
In his submissions, Sundaram revealed that Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, was the on-paper shareholder at the now defunct station. The Dubai-based businessman held a 21% stake in Infinity Media, the company that owned ANN7 through Mabengela Investments.
Sundaram’s evidence contradicted utterances made by Zuma, following the postponement of his application to have a stay of prosecution on the 16 charges he and his co-accused, French arms company Thales, are facing.
The former editor detailed Zuma’s involvement as follows: “Ajay Gupta was the head in that sense of the family.
He was the one who did all the direct negotiations with the government, with President Zuma.
“He was very close to President Zuma as well. Also, he was the bully … who goes out there and tells the ministers whatever he wanted to get done, or … seeks favours telling everybody he had the president in his pocket.”
However, Zuma boasted to his supporters that he had tried to warn ANC members against instituting a commission of inquiry into state capture as it could expose some of their wrongdoing.
“I cautioned comrades on the side that this might come back and bite them in the back. I even said it in perfect English,” said Zuma, who addressed the crowd in isiZulu.