Jacob Zuma for some time now has been charged with multiple accounts of corruption and state capture, allegations that have been dated since the beginning of his first mandate in 2009.
But what exactly is state capture and how has it caused a major impact until this day that the United States still finds the means to impose sanctions? State capture describes a form of corruption in which businesses and politicians conspire to influence a country’s decision-making process to advance their own interests. As most democracies have laws to make sure this does not happen, state capture also involves weakening those laws, and neutralising any agencies that enforce them. Ms. Abby Innes, Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics, explained the concept of state capture to the BBC earlier this year; “State capture is not just about biasing public policy so that it systematically favours some corporations over others, it’s also about strategically weakening that part of the state’s law enforcement mechanism that might crack down on corruption.”
The people behind the sanctions and the state capture allegations are a wealthy Indian family that emigrated to South Africa called the Gupta family. This name should sound familiar for all that have seen any protest against the former president Jacob Zuma, within the manifestations there are dozens of posters written something in the lines of “Zupta” or “Jacob Gupta”. The whole reason behind this is due to 3 reasons. Bongi Ngema-Zuma, one of the president’s wives, used to work for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services as a communications officer. Duduzile Zuma, Jacob’s daughter, was a director at Sahara Computers, one of the Gupta’s companies. She began working for them six months after her father was elected as ANC president. Duduzane Zuma, one of his son’s, was a director of some Gupta-owned companies but stepped down in 2016 following public pressure and various allegations of his father’s connections with the firms.
The sanctions under the U.S. Magnitsky Act have been applied to the three Gupta brothers: Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, as well as business partner Salim Essa. According to the U.S. Treasury statement, they were credibly implicated in misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain and related practices. “The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets,” said Sigal Mandelker, an under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, to the African Times. “Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people.”
There is much to say about the relations between the South African government and their past allegation, however with the former president facing multiple accounts and several years in jail a new posture should be expected by South Africans. There is a website with documents and news sources accounting the state capture allegations carried out by former president Jacob Zuma towards the Gupta family.