Following former President Jacob Zuma’s disappearance from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture last Thursday, the Deputy Chief Justice has instructed the secretary of the Commission to lay criminal charges with the South African Police Service and to bring an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to attend the Commission and to remain in attendance until duly excused by the chairperson of the Commission.
Zuma has been refusing to give evidence at the Commission as he does not want to face tough questions relating to his tenure as President of the Republic of South Africa. The evidence at the commission so far shows his presidency was marked by widespread collapse of State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) such as Eskom, Denel, PRASA, SAA, the SABC and many more jeopardizing job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of South Africans in the process. That the effects are still being felt now as organisations such as the SABC embark on retrenchments of hundreds of its employees. Electricity tariffs have skyrocketed as Eskom tries to recover the billions of rands that were lost when Zuma was president. The Guptas and Bosasa have been fingered as the main culprits in the drama that unfolded in the ten years between 2007 and 2017 assisted by many who held positions of power. The Guptas have since disappeared into thin air leaving Zuma to answer to all the incriminations. Bosasa boss, Gavin Watson , is said to have died in a car crash as evidence also implicated him in the capture of the Department of Correctional Services.
The Zondo Commission has been hearing witness after witness implicating the former president in undue influence in the proper functioning of these institutions which has resulted in their dramatic losses and eventual collapse. President Zuma has always denied any wrong doing from outside. Now that he is offered an olive branch to state his version of events, he wants to have nothing to do with the Commission. He has unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the authority of the Commission , which he himself has appointed and given the mandate to investigate, as well as the neutrality of the presiding officer. and when that failed, he walked out of the Commission. It remains to be seen what will happen in the coming days concerning this matter.
The leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and his wife handed themselves over to the police in Lilongwe, Malawi ,after they learned that they were wanted in connection with Interpol arrest warrants originating in South Africa. After handing themselves over, they were taken to a magistrate where the court found that their arrest was unlawful as apparently the warrants of arrest were not taken through proper channels in terms of the extradition treaty entered into between South Africa and .Malawi. He and his wife Mary were accordingly released without being charged and unconditionally. They do not need to return to court until South Africa rectifies the errors and follow proper procedure. This was confirmed by their legal representative in Malawi, Mr Wapona Kita. According to Kita, the Bushiris appeared before Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate, Viva Nyimba for a bail hearing. However, the couple were immediately released unconditionally as the magistrate was of the view that their arrest was unlawful. This was a slap in the face for the South Africans as they were hoping for a swift extradition in order to save face after the embarrassment caused by Bushiri’s great escape,
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The Bushiri’s are now at home relaxing and have vowed to oppose any attempts by the South Africans to extradite them back to South Africa as they believe that they will not receive a fair hearing in South Africa. In the meantime, in Pretoria, South Africa Willah Mudolo appeared without his most famous co-accused. He was remanded in custody. It seems that his chances of being released on bail have been blown away as a result of the conducted of his co-accused. The Court in South Africa has since withdrawn bail in respect of Prophet Bushiri and his wife and their bail money as well as their house in Midstream Estate valued at R5,5 million, forfeited to the State.
A huge crowd of supporters in Malawi gathered at the court in Lilongwe to plead for the Bushiris not to be extradited to South Africa. Speaking after their unconditional release, Bushiri said that victory must be given to God. He said that he is not worried about his bail money and property being forfeited to the state in South Africa. He was more concerned about his and his family’s safety. He said that he had come to Malawi as he has more faith in the justice system there than in South Africa.
Malawian Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, has said that they had no emotional attachment to the case and that they will allow the law to take its course. If the law says that they should extradite the Bushiris’, they will do so in compliance with the law and their international obligations,
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has ruled that the application for his recusal brought by former president Jacob Zuma does not have any factual or legal basis and that it is dismissed. This, after the former president was issued with a summons in September 2020 compelling him to appear before the commission on 16-20 November 2020 and give evidence under oath after repeated attempts since July 2019 to get him to submit affidavits to rebut evidence presented by a number of witnesses at the commission implicating Zuma in the state capture project. The Gupta brothers have been at the center of the state capture inquiry. They have since skipped the borders of the country leaving Zuma to answer to all their dirty work as head of state when they went on a rampage.
During September 2020, when Zuma failed to submit affidavits and to appear in person, evidence leaders at the commission successfully applied for a summons to be authorised against Zuma to compel him to appear on 16-20 November 2020. Upon learning of the summons, Zuma had no plans to testify before the commission and he decided to bring an application for the recusal of the chairperson of the commission citing several grounds including that the chairperson is biased against him and that he does not believe that he will get a fair hearing from the commission. He also cited a close relationship between him and the chairperson that would cloud the chairperson’s judgment. He further stated that the whole commission was designed to deal with him as they accuse him of being responsible for the capture of the state. This, he says, could be seen in the manner that the commission calls its witnesses as only witnesses who had issues against him are called.
The commission found that the reasons advanced by Mr Zuma’s legal team have no merits and that the application for recusal falls to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed. Upon hearing of this decision, Zuma’s legal team informed the commission that they intend to withdraw from the commission and not testify as they intend to take the decision on review to the high court as they are not satisfied with the decision and also to lodge a complaint with the judicial service commission as judge Zondo should not have sat as a judge in a matter that involves him, namely the personal relationship between him and Zuma.
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The commission went on a 15 minute tea break and when it resumed, former president Jacob Zuma had disappeared from the venue without being excused and never to return to the commission. The commission was forced to adjourn early as the remaining two days were reserved for him to testify. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond will now have to decide what the next course of action will be while Zuma’s lawyers also decide on their application for review. There are two courses of action open to the Deputy Chief Justice. The whole exercise of bringing Zuma to the commission was to give him an opportunity to respond to the adverse evidence leveled against him. If Mr Zuma chooses not to dispute it, then the chairperson will be entitled to accept it as true and correct and make his findings the basis that Mr Zuma is not disputing the evidence against him. Alternatively, he may decide that it is important that Mr Zuma should testify so that he can get the complete story about the state capture. In which event the commission would seek the assistance of the police by way of a warrant of arrest, to compel him to appear. The latter position may be undesirable if the commission would be able to conclude its work without Mr Zuma’s evidence and without resorting to the use of force to compel him to testify bearing in mind that the commission is not a criminal court. It will be up to the Hawks and the NPA to make out what to do with the Zondo reports.
In the latest bid to avoid giving evidence at the state capture inquiry, former president of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has filed an application with the said commission for the presiding officer of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to recuse himself as chairperson of the commission. This comes after the Deputy Chief Justice had previously issued an order that Zuma is obliged to attend proceedings from 16-20 November 2020 where he is required to give evidence. Zuma has previously refused to answer questions at the commission claiming that he is being treated unfairly as the type of questions that he is being asked, gives an impression that he is guilty of the state capture. At the time, Zuma gave his own definition of state capture arguing that for the state to be captured, all three branches of state , namely, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary need to be captured. He argued that this did not happen and we can therefore, not talk of state capture. In July 2019, Zuma managed to leave the commission unscathed and the commission continued to call other witnesses and continue with its work.
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This time around, the commission took a serious attitude towards Zuma testifying before it as witness after witness implicated him in the state capture project. The Commission was not prepared to allow him any latitude to refuse. Zuma then came up with his application for the recusal of the deputy chief justice. His lawyers argued that the commission established solely to destroy Zuma and that the line-up of witnesses prove that Zuma is the target of the state capture enquiry. He further states that the commission chairperson is a close friend of his and that it would not be approprite that he should take down his eveidence.
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Advocate Paul Pretorius, arguing for the commission and against the recusal application stated that the deputy chief justice was performing an executive function at the commission and not a judicial one and therefor that the issue of recusal does not arise. In any event that if the chairperson were to recuse himself, the commission would collapse and this after almost R1billion of tax payers’ moneys have been spent on the commission in the last two years, a situation that is too hard to contemplate. In any event, it was argued that Zuma is the one who appointed the deputy chief justice as chairperson of the commission and that it is strange that today, he is arguing against that appointment.
The chairperson himself also questioned the idea of appointing one commissioner to such an important commission and that two or three commissioners would have been appropriate. The matter was initially postponed to Wednesday, 18 November 2020 for a decision on the application for recusal and was later postponed to Thursday, 19 November 2020. Zuma is very likely to take the matter on review to the high court which will buy him some more time before he can testify.
Authorities in South Africa are still scratching their heads as to how was it possible that ECG leader, prophet Shepherd Bushiri, and his wife Mary, could have managed to slip through the fingers of the authorities and reach Malawi undetected. Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, said that the Minister of Home Affairs has assured him that there is no record that Prophet Bushiri used any of the ports of entry to exit the Republic. Both spokespersons for the Malawian President, Lazarus Chakwera, and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, have denied reports that Bushiri could have been smuggled through the Malawian Presidential jet which was on an official visit to South Africa recently. Malawian authorities are angry that President Chakwera’s plane was prevented from leaving South Africa and subjected to a search without any valid explanation being given for the search. Cele has said that the police were against the idea of releasing Prophet Bushiri on bail in first place as they knew that something like this could happen. The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, also said that he did not believe that Prophet should have been released on bail as it was clear that he was a flight risk,
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Meanwhile, Bushiri’s lawyer, Terrence Baloyi said that Bushiri left South Africa due to safety and security reasons and that he will return to the country to stand trial as soon as his security can be guaranteed by the State. The Independent Police investigative Directorate (IPID), has confirmed that Prophet Bushiri has opened a complaint against the police in 2018 and that the matter is still under investigation and was only delayed due to the unavailability of Prophet Bushiri to make an additional statement relating to the complaint. Bushiri has alleged that he does not believe that he will receive a fair trial in South Africa considering the treatment that he has received since 2015.
Meanwhile the Pretoria magistrate’s court has revoked Shepherd and Mary Bushiri’s bail and authorised a warrant for their arrest, This will initiate a diplomatic dispute between South Africa and Malawi as South Africa will attempt to extradite the Bushiri’s while Malawi is likely to resist such application given the contributions that Bushiri has been making to uplift the people of that country and the goodwill that he enjoys with the government of that country.
In Malawi itself, the arrival of the Bushiri’s has been met with mixed reactions with some saying that he should return to South Africa to stand trial while others say that if his life is threatened, he is entitled to flee the country and to find safety in Malawi.
Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader, prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, have left South Africa while he was on bail. The Bushiris were released on R200 000.00 bail each on 04 November 2020. It was one of their bail conditions that they should not travel outside South Africa or even outside the provinces of Gauteng and North West for that matter, while their court case is still pending.
Prophet Bushiri has since issued a statement to his members confirming that he has left for Malawi due to security reasons in South Africa. He states that he and his family have faced attempts on their lives while in South Africa and despite having reported the issue to the authorities, he has not been offered any protection by the police. He further stated that his return to Malawi is only a temporary measure pending assurances from the South African government that his grievances will be addressed, A further grievance that he has about the South African government is that he has previously lodged complaints of extortion against the police officers who are investigating his matters now, but he was not taken seriously and nothing was done about his complaints.
He further stated that he has no intention of evading his trial and that his move to Malawi is only temporary and to ensure his safety so that he and his wife can prove their innocence which they cannot do if they are killed. He further stated that he wants to be re-assured by the South African authorities that his bail shall not be revoked.
Prophet Bushiri’s escape to Malawi comes at a time when the President of the Republic of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, was on a two day official visit to South Africa where he met South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa. Speculation was rife on social media that it was not a coincidence that the two events occurred at the same time, with some even saying that Prophet Bushiri traveled in the presidential jet returning to Malawi. The President’s jet was delayed for a few hours before departing South Africa. Information Minister for the government of Malawi, Gospel Kazako, has dismissed these allegations as being devoid of any truth.They have, however, confirmed that prophet Bushiri has arrived in Malawi, but could not state how he traveled there as they had nothing to do with his escape to Malawi. The Hawks have confirmed that prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary failed to report at their nearest police station on Friday, 13 November 2020, as they were required to do so in terms of their bail conditions. They further confirmed that they are aware that prophet Bushiri is currently in Malawi and that how he managed to leave South Africa without valid travel documents is the subject of their investigations.
Meanwhile prophet Bushiri has undertaken to hold a press conference in Lilongwe soon to clarify the issues and that it will be carried live on various international news channels.
The Secretary General of the African National Congress, Ace Magashule, appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering relating to the R255 000 000.00 Free State asbestos housing project. Seven other accused appeared in the same court previously facing charges relating to the same project. The State alleges that Mr Magshule received several amounts of money from businessmen, Igo Mpambani and Edwin Sodi being proceeds from the said tender while he was Free State premier and that he used his position to influence the awarding of this tender. Mr Magashule is really the first high profile ANC leader to be brought to court in connection with the plundering of state resources by members of the ruling party that occurred during the tenure of office of former president Jacob Zuma.
According to evidence that emerged through investigative journalism and amplified at the Zondo Commsion into state capture. the looting of the state resources was spearheadeed by the Gupta brothers, with the approval of the former president and his allies. The Guptas fled the country, taking their loot with them. when Zuma’s term of office came to an end.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI),popularly known as the Hawks had obtained a warrant for the arrest of Mr Magashule. However, as a result of arrangements between the police and Mr Magashule’s attorneys, the warrant could not be executed as Mr Magashule co-operated with the police and agreed to hand himself over on Friday, 13 November 2020, for his court appearance. He indeed complied with the request by the police.
However, after learning about the warrant of arrest, Mr Magashule began playing a political card, alleging that the enemy has infiltrated the ANC and that it must not be allowed to fly. While it is unclear how much support there is within the ANC for this stance, what is clear is that many people appeared at the Bloemfontein Court to support Mr Magashule. On social media however, many people have shown their exhaustion about the corruption that has brought the country to its knees, as shown by high levels of unemployment, lack of service delivery, the collapse of State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s), failing municipalities etc. Magashule’s most ardent supporters have also spoken about Radical Economic Transformation or RET, but many people have now begun to question the meaning of that rhetoric with some analysts suggesting that it is the continuation of the looting project and not anything serious about addressing the economic welfare of the citizens.
At a press conference following a meeting of the top six National Executive Committee members, deputy secretary general and treasurer general of the ANC said that Magashule will not be stepping down as a member of the executive while his trial continues. They indicated that they are still seeking proper legal advise on the issue. The ANC had previously said that its members who are facing criminal charges should step aside until they have resolved their matters with the courts. it now seems that in the case of the Secretary General, that resolution is too difficult to swallow. Addressing his supporters after the court appearance, Mr Magashule was very defiant, stating that he was elected by branches of the ANC and that only those branches can tell him to step down. He further referred the supporters to many of his achievements as Free State Premier that he took many children to study abroad for various qualifications, particularly Cuba, Turkey, China, Germany and so on, the many housing projects that he undertook in the various Free State townships. Among his many supporters was ANC leaders,Tony Yengeni, Supra Mahumapelo, Carl Niehaus, Malusi Gigaba etc. Earlier during the day, before proceedings could start, Mr Mahumapelo and Mr Niehaus were thrown out of court by the police, despite having accreditation as Mr Niehaus has stated.
Many people who are resisting the fight against corruption are those who themselves have got skeletons in their closets and fear that the anti corruption floods will likely drown all of them. In his book, The Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, investigative journalist, Pieter-Louis Myburgh deals extensively with the SG’s dealings in the Free State while he was premier and is not painting a rosy picture.
The case against Mr Magashule was postponed to 19 February 2021 in the same court when he will join the other accused as accused no 8. The Court found that it was in the interest of justice that the accused be released on bail. He was released on R200 000-00 bail. The police did not oppose his release on bail as Mr Magashule co-operated fully with the police and is not a flight risk. He is well known and cannot hide away from the court. The police however, regard the case as very serious. He must notify the police whenever he intends to travel outside South Africa. Neither he nor anyone acting on his behalf is allowed to contact the state witness, whose name was provided to the court. The state intends to add three more accused before the matter goes on trial. Mr Magashule is facing 21 charges altogether including fraud, corruption and money laundering.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering leader, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, appeared in the Pretoria magistrates’ court again on Friday, 06 November 2020 alongside his other five co-accused when one of them, Willah Modolo, a Zambian national made a formal bail application for the first time. The State is opposing the application on the grounds that Modolo is a flight risk as he is illegal in the country and was also arrested at OR Tambo International Airport where he was attempting to board an outbound flight in order to escape arrest.
The State has called an official from the Department of Home Affairs, Brendan Adams, who confirm Mr Modolo, although married to a South African resident, is illegal in the country. His two attempts to apply for permanent residence in South Africa were rejected by the Department of Home Affairs. Modolo has denied that he was trying to flee the country when he was arrested and stated that he was on a business trip to Nigeria, and was not aware that he was wanted by the police.
The bail application was postponed to 19 November 2020 for further bail hearing. Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who is accused no. 4, and his wife Mary, accused no. 5, were previously released on R200 000.00 bail. Accused 2, Zethu Modolo, who is also accused 1’s wife, was released on a R20 000.00 bail. Accused 6 was released on R100 000.00 bail. All the accused were given very stringent bail conditions upon their release to ensure their continued attendance in court. The trial itself is unlikely to commence until sometimes into 2021 when the State will be calling witnesses to give evidence against the accused.
With counting still continuing, Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden is leading the race at 264 electoral college votes as against Republican Party President Donald Trump’s 214. There are still results pending in 4 swing states, namely, Georgia (16ev), North Carolina(15ev), Pennsylvania(20ev), Arizona(11ev),
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This is very closely contested election in many years. Donald Trump has been leading the race in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, until a short while ago. Joe Biden has just collected Michigan and Nevada to bring him to 264 votes. If Donald Trump will have to win in the four outstanding states to secure him the 270 electoral college votes necessary to become president of the United States. This possibility is fading away with each passing hour. However, Trump can still surprise all of us by defying expectations as in 2016. If he wins Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, he will be able to add 51 electoral college votes bringing him to 264, which falls short by 6 electoral college votes. He will need to win Arizona as well overall victory.
The race is closely contested in all of the swing states and anything is possible. It is a game of wait-and-see. It may be sometime before we get the final results as some states have been granted allowance to count the votes for a few more days after voting is closed. President Trump has already launched multiple court challenges to order a recount as he feels that the votes are being stolen from him,
Trump’s Legacy: If Trump leaves the White House, he will leave having secured peace between the United States/South Korea and North Korea, reduced US/Russian, tensions having withdrawn US troops from Syria and in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan and having moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and started peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
All these came at a price as the US’s European Allies felt left out and more vulnerable to Russian aggression, trade wars between the US and China, alienated the Palestinians and Iran. In the overall, Donald Trump, in his own way, has done more to advance world peace in recent American history. This is something that Americans need to thank him for as his strategy has saved them trillions of dollars in military expenses.This is something that Americans may have missed in their decision not to give him a second term. It remains to be seen whether the Democrats will continue on this path or will return to engage in endless wars all over the world.
Magistrates’ Court, Pretoria, South Africa: 04 November 2020, All accused appeared before the magistrate’s court in Pretoria. The court dealt with the background of the application for bail. The State had applied for a postponement as it was not ready to proceed with a bail hearing which was dismissed by the court.
The accused proceeded to present affidavits in support of their application for bail. No oral evidence was led by any of the accused. Accused 1 did not apply for bail as he was not ready to do so. The State also presented affidavits to oppose the release of the accused on bail. The Court referred to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996 and observed that, as a starting point, an accused person who has been arrested in respect of the commission of an offence is entitled to be released on bail pending the hearing of the matter in respect of which they have been arrested.
The Court found in respect of accused 2 that she is a housewife and a South African citizen with two minor children one of whom is still breastfeeding. That she has only been implicated in the cases as a result of her marriage to accused 1. She resigned from accused 3, Rising Estate Investment in 2017. This was not disputed by the State. She has got strong ties to South Africa and that she requires constant medical attention for an underlying condition.
In respect of accused 4 & 5, the court observed that they are Malawian citizens currently holding South African Permanent Residence Permits, although the State has disputed the validity of those permits.That issue is currently the subject of a High Court application in which the Minister of Home Affairs is a party. The State has said that the accused are a flight risk, but the court did not agree with the State on the basis that the accused are prominent church leaders of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG). The accused were previously granted bail on certain conditions and they observed the bail conditions. The accused own property in South Africa. The accused have previously surrendered their travel documents to the investigating officer.
Accused no. 6 is a South African citizen with strong family ties in South Africa.
The decision of the Court is that the application by the accused to be released on bail is granted. Bail amount in respect of accused 2 is fixed in the amount of R20 000.00, iro accused 4 & 5 in the amount of R200 000.00 each and in respect of accused 6, in the amount of R100 000.00. Bail conditions are that the accused should attend court at all times to which the matter is remanded; should not interfere with state witnesses; are prohibited from undertaking any travel outside the Republic of South Africa. Accused 4 & 5 should surrender the title deed to their property in Johannesburg valued at R5,5 million as additional security to the State. In their preaching to their congregation, accused 4 & 5 are prohibited from mentioning or intimidating any of the state witnesses, the investigation officers or prosecutors in the matter.
The case was postponed to Friday, 06 November 2020 for bail application by accused 1. Accused 1 will remain custody. Crowds of ECG supporters were waiting outside the court to be addressed by prophet Bushiri, but he could not, probably because he still needs to understand the limitations imposed by the bail conditions on his freedom of speech.