AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SENSATIONAL and damning allegations that plans were made to bribe high court judges to rule in favour of the then South African president Jacob Zuma, in case he landed in court in connection with fraud and corruption charges that have been hanging over his head.
These dramatic claims were made by Sydney Mufamadi, a former cabinet minister who chaired a presidential panel to review the work of the South African Security Agency (SSA).
In his testimony before the Zondo Commission probing state capture, Mufamadi, said his panel was also told that Zuma was paid between R2.5-million and R4.5-million per month, from 2015 to 2017, from the SSA covert funds.
He said the funds were paid to Zuma through an intelligence operation named ‘Project Commitment”.
“With Project Commitment, we were told that that project involved providing (the) then president with R2.5-million in the 2015 and 2016 financial year … and this amount was increased to R4.5-million per month in the 2016/2017 financial year. The allegation there, at least to the extent that we were just told this, apparently this money was provided via then Minister (David) Mahlobo. The person who gave this information was saying ‘I am certain the money was given to Minister Mahlobo as told to us but I cannot prove that it was received by President Zuma’,” Mufamadi said.
He clarified that no evidence was presented to the panel that the money – always collected in cash by Mahlobo – was given to Zuma or not. There were, however, receipts confirming Mahlobo’s receipt of the money.
Asked by the Deputy Chief Justice Zondo if there would be circumstances when a minister would need to be given such large amounts of money other than his salary, Mufamadi responded: “Unthinkable”.
Mufamadi said the allegations about the bribing of judges were made when the panel heard evidence regarding an intelligence operation called “Project Justice” which involved recruiting and managing sources within the judiciary in order to influence the outcome of cases against Zuma.
“Well, information provided to the panel indicated that amounts of R1.2-million and R4.5-million were routinely given from the SSA and provided to Minister Mahlobo, whom it is said, was responsible for handling these sources,” Mufamadi said.
He said the panel was told that some of that money was used to bribe judges.
Mufamadi cautioned that the panel had not been presented with evidence to back up the allegations. He said the allegations were also treated with extreme caution as the panel did not want to be involved in anything that would reduce the credibility of the judiciary.
Zuma is involved in a legal batte with the Zondo Commission whose result will determine if the former president gets to testify and respond to the allegations made against him.
Mufamadi also told the commission that evidence presented to his panel showed that the Special Operations Unit within SSA was a law unto itself and directly served the political interests of the executive.
He said the SOU undertook intelligence operations which were both illegal and unconstitutional.