S.Africa minister charged as part of corruption probeWed, 05 Jun 2024 11:44:34 GMT

A South African minister was arrested and charged with corruption on Wednesday, as his ANC party wrangles with how to form a new government after major election losses.Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa was detained after he was implicated by the vast Zondo Commission inquiry into corruption under former ANC president Jacob Zuma’s rule.As a serving minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, his arrest underlines the struggle that the African National Congress (ANC) has had in cleaning up its image.The party’s track record of corruption contributed to its slump in support in last week’s general election, when it lost its outright parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades.On Wednesday, voters waiting for the ANC to announce how it plans to form either a minority government or a coalition, instead watched the televised spectacle of a minister in the dock.Kodwa, 54, appeared alongside his associate, 47-year-old tech services entrepreneur Jehan Mackay, facing charges under the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act.Lawyers acting for the pair indicated that they would plead not guilty to the charges, which police said related to a roughly 84,000-euro ($91,000) bribe to the minister from his friend.   Prosecutors did not oppose bail and judge Sheron Soko-Rantao released them on bonds of 30,000 rand (1,460 euros) to return to their next pre-trial hearing on July 23.Shortly after the hearing, Kodwa’s ministry issued a statement saying that he had informed Ramaphosa that he was resigning from the government to fight the charges “which he strongly denies”.     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 between 2009 and 2018. – Voting slump -It presented its findings to Ramaphosa in 2022. A spokeswoman for elite police unit the Hawks, Brigadier Thandi Mbambo, said that officers had based their arrests on the results of the judicial inquiry.This “revealed that during the period from April 28, 2015 to February 2, 2018, an executive on behalf of his entity enticed his co-accused to gratification amounting to 1,710,000 rand for personal benefit. “The monies are reported to have been utilised for the purchasing of a luxury SUV and payment of luxury accommodation,” Mbambo said. The ANC’s 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 votes — a catastrophic slump from the 57.5 percent it won in 2019 — and lost its outright parliamentary majority. Kodwa had been among the 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.