Acting judge wants Zuma-era ca

President Jacob Zuma takes official family photo with Cabinet members ahead of 2016 Budget Speech. Image:Twitter@PresidencyZA

Acting judge wants Zuma-era cabinet, including Ramaphosa, at Zondo commission

When asked what his response would be to those who might see this as veiled support for former president, Jacob Zuma, Vuyani Ngalwana said: “One word… poppycock.”

Acting judge wants Zuma-era ca

President Jacob Zuma takes official family photo with Cabinet members ahead of 2016 Budget Speech. Image:Twitter@PresidencyZA

A senior barrister has submitted a written request to the state capture inquiry, urging Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, cabinet ministers, and directors-general who served under former president Jacob Zuma to account for “nine wasted years.”

Vuyani Ngalwana, who is acting as a judge in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, said: “Ideally, the entire cabinet of those years should have been questioned by the commission on their role in the alleged corruption of those years.”

“My request is that the deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa] during the period that has been dubbed by some as ‘nine wasted years’ (May 9 2009 to February 14 2018) should be invited by the chairperson of the state capture commission to give oral evidence before the commission and be questioned on their evidence.”

Ngalwana confirmed to TimesLive that he submitted a request in terms of rule 9.1 of the Zondo commission.

Cast the net wider

“I appreciate the commission has limited time to complete its work by March 31 2021 and it may not be feasible to obtain the evidence of all these persons and assess it in time before the final report of the commission is due for submission to the president who, ironically, is one of those persons who should be questioned,” he said.

“But that, with respect, is of the commission’s own doing by the choices it has made as regards which witnesses to invite, leaving out persons who are, in my submission, clearly relevant witnesses capable of shedding light on alleged ‘state capture’ during their time in [former] president Zuma’s cabinet and senior official positions in organs of state.”

Ngalwana said much has been reported in the media about the excesses of the Zuma administration and the alleged corruption which took place, including the 2016 Nkandla scandal which reportedly cost the taxpayer more than R200m.

“Who made these calculations? How did they arrive at this amount? What are these specific security upgrades. What are the details of the procurement of service providers and who made the decision to award which contract to whom at the department of public works? Who approved the funding at National Treasury?”

Ramaphosa in the cross-hairs

On the issue of state-owned enterprises, Ngalwana said: “Surely the president should now be called by the commission to account for his role in the decimation of state-owned entities, particularly on what his interventions were to ‘stabilise and reform’ these entities during his tenure as chair of Zuma’s IMC [inter-ministerial committee] on state-owned enterprises, and where, in his assessment, the failures and successes of his efforts lie.”

Turning to the issue of who funded Ramaphosa’s presidential (CR17) election campaign, Ngalwane said there were allegations of people being appointed to state-owned enterprise board positions, and others being awarded contracts of considerable value, allegedly as a result of their financial contributions to the election campaign in December 2017.

“Are these allegations true or false? Will a bare denial of these allegations suffice for the commission? Documents that could possibly serve as evidence of contributors to the president’s election campaign remain sealed from public scrutiny by court order.”

These, he said, are some of the serious questions that the Zuma cabinet, or at least senior cabinet members, should be called to answer.

“My emphasis is simply to indicate that the terms of reference are wider than just [former] president Zuma, the Gupta family and those portrayed as being associated with them. The terms of reference enjoin the commission to probe also persons who were part of Zuma’s cabinet and public officials (such as directors-general).”