Broken and Betrayed

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A years-long judicial reckoning of corruption during the tenure of former South African President Jacob Zuma ended this week, prompting questions over whether the government will prosecute individuals who stole more than $31 billion from state coffers, Bloomberg reported.

The 5,000-page report showed a web of graft that stretched from the national power and rail utilities to Zuma and his cabinet. Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – who headed the inquiry – recommended the prosecutions of numerous officials starting from former heads of state companies to government ministers.

Still, since it began four years ago, the “Zondo commission” – as it’s colloquially known in the country – has only made a handful of arrests with many individuals accused of wrongdoing continuing to hold senior government positions.

Zondo said that President Cyril Rampahosa and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party have done little to tackle corruption, both during Zuma’s rule and following his resignation in 2018 amid corruption allegations. The judge held the party responsible for keeping Zuma in power and looting billions from taxpayers.

Analysts said that Zondo’s findings highlight how the South African government has become “a broken institution in itself.”

The findings have portrayed the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa in a negative light. Elections are still two years away, however.

The ruling party responded that Zondo’s report will help “enhance the process of fundamental renewal and rebuilding within our movement.” Even so, political observers and the public remain skeptical that authorities will take any action or fix the damage wrought to the country during the Zuma years.

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