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S.Africa’s Ramaphosa testifies before graft investigators

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday resumed his much-anticipated testimony in front of a judicial inquiry into corruption, a month after his predecessor was jailed for ignoring the same investigators.

It is Ramaphosa’s second time appearing before the panel, which has been probing the alleged mass looting of state coffers during former president Jacob Zuma’s 2009-2018 tenure.

Zuma started serving a 15-month prison term last month for contempt of court after he refused to appear before the commission, which has been hearing evidence for three years.

Ramaphosa will be answering questions as both the former deputy president under Zuma and as the current head of state.

The inquiry is a result of a 2016 investigation by the country’s ombudswoman which found evidence that Zuma allowed the Guptas, a wealthy Indian migrant business family who won lucrative contracts with state companies, undue influence over the government.

Ramaphosa, who served as Zuma’s deputy president for four years from 2014 before succeeding him in February 2018, came to power vowing to fight corruption.

During his first appearance before the commission in April, Ramaphosa admitted that corruption had taken hold within the ruling African National Congress party that has governed the nation since the end of the apartheid in 1994.

“State capture took place under our watch as the governing party,” he said back then, adding that it involved some ANC members and leaders.

The graft inquiry will make recommendations to prosecutors when it concludes at the end of September.

Although attendance at the hearing was limited due to Covid-19 restrictions, opposition Democratic Alliance party leader John Steenhuisen and Ramaphosa’s wife Tshepo Motsepe were among those in the gallery.