South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma to give evidence on state capture

South Africa's former President, Jacob Zuma, is due to give evidence this week at a commission set up to investigate "state capture" during his time in office.

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South Africa's former President, Jacob Zuma to give evidence on state capture
President Jacob Zuma gestures during his question and answer session in Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, September 13, 2016.

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma who was born 12 April 1942, is one of the phenomenal great South African politicians who served as the fourth President of South Africa from the 2009, until his resignation on 14 February 2018. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ and his clan name Msholozi.

Zuma is known to have faced significant legal challenges before and during his presidency. Following some of the charges that were put on him, He was charged with rape in 2005, but was acquitted. He later fought a long legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption which by then resulted to his financial advisor Schabir Shaik’s conviction for corruption and fraud, however the National Prosecuting Authority dropped the charges against Zuma.

Jacob Zuma now gets himself into a scenario that sets him to give evidence this week at a commission set up to investigate “state capture” during his time in office. State capture is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state’s decision-making processes to their own advantage.

The term “state capture” has become a key buzzword – shorthand for the multiple scandals that plagued the Zuma administration and eventually brought it down. “State capture is not just about biasing public policy so that it systematically favours some corporations over others,” Abby Innes, assistant professor of political economy at the London School of Economics, told the BBC. “It’s also about strategically weakening that part of the state’s law enforcement mechanism that might crack down on corruption.”

“Classic corruption involves individual politicians taking side-payments for preferential treatment in outsourcing contracts, a small deal here, a license payment there,” Ms Innes said.

“Full-on state capture is where corporations can influence the nature of the legislative process, and political actors allow them to do so for private gain. The whole policy-making structure of the state becomes commodified – something that politicians are willing to sell.”

How state capture operated in South Africa?

Many of the revelations from the inquiry concern the relationship between two families – the Zumas, centred on the former president, and the Guptas, three Indian-born brothers who moved to South Africa after the fall of apartheid.

The two families become so closely linked that a joint term was coined for them – the “Zuptas”.

All parties have denied the allegations against them, describing them as politically motivated.

The Guptas owned a portfolio of companies that enjoyed lucrative contracts with South African government departments and state-owned conglomerates. They also employed several Zuma family members – including the president’s son, Duduzane – in senior positions.

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