Inside Story

Is Zuma turning South Africa into a ‘mafia state’?

President Zuma faces political storm as allegations emerge over influence of a powerful family on political decisions.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has, over the years, proved himself to be the ultimate political survivor.

Implicated in scandal after scandal, he has always managed to come out on top. But now Zuma is facing perhaps his biggest controversy yet.

He has been challenged on his relationship with the wealthy and influential Gupta family, who hold a range of business interests in South Africa.

This week, Mcebisi Jonas, South Africa’s deputy finance minister, said members of the Gupta family offered him the top ministerial post.

That was after the finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, was sacked.

Nene was a respected figure in the government but had a difficult relationship with Zuma. And his sacking was highly controversial.

The whole saga has now focused attention on the president’s alleged network of patronage.

The ruling ANC party’s secretary general has said that South Africa risks becoming a “mafia state” unless corruption is dealt with.

On this Inside Story, we look at President Zuma’s links to powerful businessmen. And we ask, how are his scandals affecting the future of the ANC and South Africa?

Presenter: Mike Hanna


Richard Calland: Associate professor in the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town and author of the book The Zuma Years: South Africa’s Changing Face of Power

Khadija Patel: Co-founder and managing editor of the online news outlet, the Daily Vox

Somadoda Fikeni: Policy analyst and political scientist