Former South African president Jacob Zuma has been accused of manipulating the country’s spy agency for his own ends and pocketing funds from the intelligence organisation to enrich himself and polish his image with media outlets, according to testimony at the investigation into “state capture”.
Sydney Mufamadi, former chairperson of a review panel overseeing the State Security Agency, made shocking allegations to the state capture commission, according to The Citizen newspaper.
Mufamadi said 135,000 euros per month was funnelled to Zuma via then-minister of state security David Mahlobo in the 2015/16 financial year, rising to 244,000 euros the following year.
The state capture investigation, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, also heard evidence this week from a number of unidentified witnesses, as well as Loyiso Jafta, acting director general of the State Security Agency (SSA).
Mufamadi described having a source who told him they were certain the money was given to minister of state Mahlobo, but could not prove that it was then passed to the former president.
The state capture commission is looking into allegations of fraud and corruption, that Zuma and accomplices, such as the powerful Gupta family, used state coffers and resources for their own ends.
Zuma was ordered by the constitutional court on Thursday to follow orders to appear before the special commission of enquiry and give evidence, The Times newspaper reported.
Mufamadi also told the inquiry that an initiative called Project Wave was instigated during Zuma’s rule, in an attempt to infiltrate and influence international and local media houses, allegedly trying to counteract negative stories and images.
Project Wave gobbled up 1.3 million euros during the 2015/16 financial year, when it launched. One production agency landed more than 1 million euros in fees for eight months of work on the alleged Zuma propaganda operation, led by the SSA, according to Mufamadi.
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The SSA also carried out operations to restrict and hinder campaigning by then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa for his election to leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) party in 2017, Mufamadi said in his evidence.
The SSA also ran ops to infiltrate the Zuma Must Fall movement, which led protests against the former president in early 2017, Mufamadi told the court.
The state capture commission on Friday applauded the constitutional court’s ruling that Zuma must appear before the investigation, saying it “upholds the rule of law and emphasises that no one is above the law”.
Since August 2018, when oral testimonies started, the commission has heard 278 witnesses and issued 2,736 summons, according to statistics from The Times newspaper in December.