With so many criminal cases against him, former president Jacob Zuma might soon be served with another lawsuit from the SABC for playing a role that left the public broadcaster in financial distress.
Zuma’s involvement in the relationship between The New Age (TNA), ANN7 and the SABC caused the public broadcaster to lose more than R4 million between April 2011 and March 2017.
The final instalment of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture which was officially handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday has recommended that the SABC should consider instituting civil proceedings against Zuma and other Infinity Media (ANN7) directors.
The report reveals that Zuma had a 30% share in the Gupta family company.
The report reads:The SABC should consider instituting civil proceedings against TNA Media or any of its directors and recover all the costs incurred by the SABC, including disgorgement of profits made by TNA Media in relation to the breakfast shows.
Apart from Zuma, who did not only abuse his power as the president and breach the executive ethics code when he became the central figure in the relationship between TNA, the ANN7 and the SABC, his former cabinet minister Faith Muthambi also participated.
The report also recommended that the law enforcement agencies should conduct further investigations with a view to possible criminal prosecution of former group CEO Lulama Mokhobo, and former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng for contravention of the public finance management act (PFMA).
Mokhobo is accused of contravening section 38(1)(b) and (c) of the PFMA while Motsoeneng is accused to contravening section 45(b) and (c) of the PFMA, in respect of their respective roles in the conclusion of the agreement between the SABC and TNA Media “in respect of the so-called TNA Breakfast briefings.”
The relationship, which started without a contract and went on for many years, placed the SABC in more financial distress as the public broadcaster struggled to make money out of it while TNA and ANN7 were cashing in.
Even though the commission has recommended that steps be taken against all the role players, it also noted that many of the main actors have left the stage and steps against them by internal processes can no longer be taken.
“The costs incurred by the SABC for the TNA broadcasts, coupled with the provision of the relevant services to TNA by the SABC, in the amount of approximately R4 268 887 (excluding VAT), between April 1 2011 and March 31 2017, should be recovered from any of the assets belonging to TNA or any assets held by the members of the Gupta family,” reads the report.
The commission found that Zuma’s abuse of office was for his own benefit, that of his son Duduzane and that of his friends, the Guptas.
“At the very least, the appropriate investigating and prosecuting authorities should attempt to recover all monies spent through unlawful and improper actions, if that can still be done.
The report reads:For instance, the estimated R11 million ‘success fee’ should be recovered from Motsoeneng.
According to the commission, Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas also placed the SABC in a disadvantaged position that it could not explore other business opportunities that could have brought in revenue.
“President Zuma enabled the members of the Gupta family as businesspeople to occupy a place of prominence over other businessmen, to the detriment of the empowerment legislative imperatives of the Republic of South Africa,” read the report.
The Gupta family, and in turn the president’s son, Duduzane Zuma, benefitted from the relationship that the Gupta family had with Zuma in that they entered into contracts with various state organs and, in particular the SABC, to the detriment of other potential competitors who operated within the same media space.
“President Zuma enabled, indirectly, the members of the Gupta family to abuse their relationship to the extent of flouting visa and labour laws of the country. It is not denied that through Ashu Chawla visas for the Indian nationals were facilitated in a way that was contrary to law.”