Zuma more loyal to the Guptas than to the constitution, Mo Shaik says
Testifying at the state-capture inquiry, Shaik says, Zuma ‘could not separate his personal relationship from his responsibility as head of state’
Former intelligence boss Riaz “Mo” Shaik believes former president Jacob Zuma could not separate his personal relationship with members of the Gupta family from his responsibilities as president.
In his second appearance at the state-capture inquiry on Tuesday, Shaik, once a long-time friend of Zuma, said the former president was not fully cognisant of his constitutional responsibilities when he took office.
Shaik was continuing his testimony from Monday, when he described two meetings in 2011, one with Zuma and another with then intelligence minister Siyabonga Cwele, in which pleas for an investigation into members of the Gupta family were shot down.
The meetings were held after Shaik and other directors at the State Security Agency (SSA) decided to launch investigations into the Gupta family, with a focus on their political influence and business interests.
Shaik alleged that Zuma and Cwele played a role in halting the investigation.
“I do think Zuma ... in his capacity as the president, understood what we were saying and the consequences of what we were saying, and it is for that reason he went into a very elaborate explanation about his relationship [with the Gupta family],” Shaik said.
“As someone who has known the president for an extremely long period of time, I know that when he does make up his mind on a matter, it is often difficult to shift that mindset. I think he was being very loyal to the friendship he had with the Gupta family.”
Shaik believed at the time that if they had continued the investigation, their jobs would be on the line.
“It was clear the power to remove us did lie with the president, and if we did continue with the investigation our removal would be forthcoming. It was a mountain too high to climb,” he said.
“It was not a justifiable approach. The president could not separate his personal relationship from his responsibility as head of state, particularly with the advice given by his heads of intelligence. He was not fully cognisant of his responsibility and his constitutional responsibility.
“There came a point in his administration where he could not separate his personal relationship with the Guptas from his responsibility as the head of the national executive.”