The statement relates to the Public Protector’s investigation into the alleged involvement of the Gupta family in the dismissal and appointment of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Boards of Directors of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), consequent influence by the Gupta family on improper and possibly corrupt influence in the award of state contracts and licenses to companies linked to the family.
The Public Protector would like to report that President Jacob Zuma was afforded a proper opportunity to tender his evidence since 22 March 2016 (see copies of the two letters dated 22 March 2016 and 22 April 2016 attached).
President Zuma was on Saturday, October 01, 2016, given all copies of evidence implicating him.
His lawyer raised a request to question witnesses for the first time on Thursday, October 06, 2016 when he was asking for a deferment of the investigation to the next Public Protector.
A letter has been prepared to advise the President to submit questions that will be put to witnesses on his behalf.
The Public Protector’s approach to the investigation has been informed by, amongst others, section 7(9)(a) of the Public Protector Act, which provides that: “The Public Protector shall afford such (implicated) person an opportunity to respond … in any manner that may be expedient under the circumstances”.
Expedient in the circumstances takes into account that the Executive Members’ Ethics Act requires an investigation regarding possible violations of the Executive Ethics Code to be concluded within 30 days.
It is of concern to the Public Protector that the President has on two occasions undertaken to answer questions and when the time arose, he changed his mind.
The Public Protector genuinely believes it is in the interests of the President to account for what he knows regarding the allegations which the Public Protector already forwarded to him in March 2016.
She also believes it is in the interest of public trust that the matter be concluded expeditiously.
She accordingly appeals to the President to assist with any information he has that can assist the investigation, primarily, by answering the questions put to him.