Suddenly, there's light on shadows of state capture

24 November 2017 - 07:05 By The Times Editorial
Former Eskom board chairman Zola Tsotsi at the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.
Former Eskom board chairman Zola Tsotsi at the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.
Image: Esa Alexander

The state-capture story cannot be properly understood until the role of Jacob Zuma in its many machinations is fully explained, but, frustratingly, the detail of this has lurked in the shadows of inference and supposition.

That all changed on Wednesday with the sensational testimony of former Eskom board chairman Zola Tsotsi to parliament's state-capture inquiry. Tsotsi's description of an alleged meeting at Zuma's Durban residence in 2015 is arguably the most specific detail yet aired pointing to the president's hand in things.

Tsotsi painted Zuma at the centre of the conspiracy on which the crooked Gupta empire was built rather than as some pliable politician being puppet-mastered from Saxonwold.

Tsotsi's description of the Durban meeting is significant because it also appears to confirm the long-held suspicions of now former SAA chair Dudu Myeni's broader role in the affairs of state.

As Tsotsi tells it, he was summoned by Myeni to where he was handed a list of Eskom executives who were to be axed, a move apparently affirmed a short while later by the president himself, who attended the discussions.

Tsotsi's claims, putting aside our suspicions about why he never protested at the time, shed significant light on how Eskom and its billions may have been manipulated by political interests and other parties.

But they are still only one side of the story. The true test of the resilience of parliament's inquiry now lies ahead as it vows to call Zuma and the Guptas to provide answers - something they have avoided having to do for years.

If, as the increasingly compromised Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown asserts, these allegations are untested fabrications, parliament has provided the perfect opportunity for them to be challenged, but will Zuma rise to the challenge?