South African leader gets first part of corruption report

International

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has received the first part of a report on corruption from a judicial investigation into President Jacob Zuma’s tenure from 2009 to 2018.

Receiving the report, Ramaphosa described it as a “defining moment” in South Africa’s fight against corruption. He said it would help to restore “the integrity, credibility and capability of our institutions, but more importantly, our government.”

The result of three years of investigations, the report is expected to detail the extent of corruption in government and state-owned companies.

Chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission is expected to make recommendations to Ramaphosa, including possible prosecution of those implicated in wrong-doing.

“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the commission not only mark a decisive break with the corrupt practices of the past, but that they provide the foundation for greater transparency, accountability and ethical conduct within all state institutions and across society,” said Ramaphosa.

He thanked whistleblowers and journalists for providing evidence to the investigation “often at great risk and cost to themselves.”

The report has been made public but Ramaphosa said his government will have to study all three parts and will only be able to comment on it at the end of June.

According to Zondo, the first part of the report handed over on Tuesday deals with allegations of corruption and mismanagement at South African Airways, the country’s state-owned airline which has run up massive debts and has received government subsidies and bailouts.

The second part of the report will deal with state contracts and sponsorships from government departments and state-owned enterprises to the now-defunct New Age newspaper.

The last part will focus on allegations of corruption at the South African Revenue Services, the country’s tax revenue service.

The judicial inquiry has uncovered evidence of what South Africans call “state capture,” how Zuma and his associates including the Gupta family of businessmen allegedly influenced the awarding of lucrative state contracts.

Testimony including from Cabinet ministers and top officials have directly implicated Zuma in corrupt schemes, including allowing the Gupta family to influence his cabinet appointments.

Zuma refused to obey a court order to appear before the commission and answer questions under oath. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying the court order. He was imprisoned in July, triggering rioting and destruction of property in which more than 300 people were killed. In September Zuma, 79, was released on medical parole for an undisclosed ailment. A court has ruled that the medical parole was invalid and that Zuma should return to prison. Zuma is appealing that decision.

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