JOHANNESBURG, March 1 (Reuters) – A South African corruption inquiry said on Tuesday it had referred former president Jacob Zuma and current mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe for investigation by law enforcement with a view to establishing potential graft charges.
The inquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of high-level graft during Zuma’s nine years in power from 2009, and is publishing its findings after more than three years of investigations.
Its latest report focuses on corruption and fraud related to privately-owned services company Bosasa, now in voluntary liquidation after banks closed its accounts amid graft allegations.
“The evidence revealed that corruption was Bosasa’s way of doing business,” the inquiry’s report said. “It bribed politicians, government officials, President Jacob Zuma and others extensively.”
Zuma, who denies any wrongdoing, faces allegations that he allowed businessmen to plunder state resources and influence policy in what is widely referred to in South Africa as “state capture”.
The report said there were grounds to believe Zuma had passed Bosasa confidential information about criminal investigations into the company and helped inhibit its prosecution in return for bribes, in breach of his obligations as president under the constitution. It referred the matter to appropriate authorities to investigate, the report added.
Zuma has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, leading to his imprisonment last July for contempt of court. He was placed on medical parole in September before being ordered back to jail by the high court – a decision he is appealing. A representative for Zuma did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The inquiry also referred evidence relating to Mantashe for further investigation, it said, adding that there was a reasonable prospect this would uncover a corruption case against him.
Bosasa installed security systems at three of Mantashe’s properties without charge, in what the commission said was likely an effort to curry favour with the then secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
In testimony to the inquiry, Mantashe said security upgrades were made but that there was nothing untoward about them. Spokespeople for Mantashe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report said that authorities should also investigate ANC officials that helped arrange a free-of-charge election “war room” from Bosasa. An ANC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.