South Africa minister charged in vast corruption probe

Johannesburg   -   South Africa’s sports minister appeared before a court on corruption charges Wednesday, as his ruling ANC party discussed forming a government after a poor showing in general elections last week.

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa was arrested alongside a friend and business associate in relation to a huge probe into state corruption under former president Jacob Zuma. “We can confirm that two individuals have been arrested this morning following the Zondo commission recommendations on state capture,” Thandi Mbambo, spokeswoman for elite police unit the Hawks, told AFP.

Kodwa was formally charged as he appeared before a specialist court, south of Johannesburg, alongside co-accused Jehan Mackay for a bail hearing that was streamed online.  Kodwa’s ministry did not respond to a request for comment. The Zondo commission was a judicial commission of inquiry led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo tasked with probing corruption under Zuma’s nine-year presidency.  It presented its findings to South Africa’s incumbent leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2022.

News platform News24 reported that Kodwa was held on accusations of taking 1.6 million rand ($85,000) in bribes in connection to contracts handed by the city of Johannesburg to upgrade and maintain the metro’s software systems. It comes at a delicate time for the African National Congress of which Kodwa is a senior member.

Its top brass is holding talks to form a coalition or a minority government after the party suffered a severe setback in last week’s general elections, slipping below 50 percent of the vote for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994. The ANC won 40 percent of preferences -- a catastrophic slump from the 57.5 percent it won in 2019 -- and lost its outright parliamentary majority.  Kodwa was among ANC members expected to take up a seat in the National Assembly. Zuma, who was forced out of office as president and ANC leader in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations that led to the Zondo report.

 won almost 15 percent of the vote last week, fronting the recently formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

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