Omolola Ojo

Omolola Ojo

South Africa: Formal public hearings of inquiry into allegations of influence peddling will begin in August

Formal public hearings of inquiry into allegations of influence peddling involving former president Jacob Zuma and businessman friends will start in August. This was made known by the head of the inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who added that the hearings could take two years or more.

“Based on what we know now, the inquiry would likely take 18 months to two years,” said the head of the commission in a televised news briefing on Thursday.

“It may well be that when the investigations go on we find that actually there needs to be more time than that,” he said.

Originating from a 2016 anti-graft report by the Public Protector, which is a regulatory office with a robust constitutional mandate, the commission is mandated to investigate what is known in South Africa as “state capture,” and make recommendations for prosecutions.

“We will investigate whoever it may be, against whom there are allegations that fall within our terms of reference,” said Zondo.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a politician, it doesn’t matter if it’s a business person. We will investigate, we will do our job, and we will do our job without fear, without favor, without prejudice.

“Those who will be implicated, they will also be dealt with fairly. They will find a fair hearing before us. But we will make sure that the fact that you may be a politician or a business person is really neither here nor there. We investigate the allegations and make findings.”

The “state capture” case includes allegations surrounding the Gupta family and Zuma, who bowed to pressure from his political party African National Congress (ANC) to resign from office in February, has drugged major companies including KPMG and McKinsey into the mud.

National Treasury has allocated R230-million for a six-month inquiry into state capture.