President Jacob Zuma in the face of increased pressure to step down announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into “state capture” to be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has welcomed this move but calls for it be viewed cautiously as the details about the terms of reference and scope of the commission needs to be outlined. The Zondo Commission has to work along the lines of compliance with the recommendations and findings of the report from the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, commented Neeshan Balton, the Foundation’s Executive Director.
“We reiterate the views of Madonsela that the commission should focus specifically on state capture under President Zuma, and must investigate the allegations of state capture against the Gupta family. We agree with Madonsela that the President has the prerogative to set up other commissions that focus on pre-1994 cases of state capture. The Zondo Commission however, must be very specific and not unnecessarily drawn out to include other cases.”
Balton added, “In 2013, after the Waterkloof incident involving the Guptas, the Foundation indicated that it hoped investigations at that time already, would reveal more about how the family had come to wield such immense political and administrative power. We reiterate the hope that the newly established commission would be able to lay bare to the South African public the extent to which the family, with their close association to the President, has captured the state.”
“We also hope that the commission paves the way for prosecution of all individuals found to be guilty of flouting the law and disregarding the Constitution, irrespective of what office or position the individual may hold. It would be an affront to the people of South Africa for those found to be in violation of the country’s guiding principles and laws to be provided with a ‘deal’ or ‘a way out’, simply because of who they are.
“There should also be immediate prosecution in cases that are clear and prosecutable. We call on the Hawks and the NPA to stop dithering. The #GuptaLeaks has revealed much, and in some cases it is not necessary to wait for the inquiry to take place for prosecution to occur.”
Balton added that while the establishment of the inquiry was in keeping with the State of Capture report’s remedial recommendations, it was disappointing that action was taken by the President only after a court ruling compelled him to do so. “It is furthermore disappointing that the President still seeks to appeal this ruling,” Balton said.
He also indicated that although President Zuma has now established the commission, it does not mean that calls for him to be removed as president would die down. “The Foundation urges the newly elected ANC NEC – who despite not discussing the issue at their most recent meeting – to take a decision to recall Zuma as president of the country. We hope that the NEC will have the backbone to heed calls by Robben Islanders such as Ahmed Kathrada and Laloo Chiba, as well as numerous other veterans, who have called for Zuma to step down.
“Attempts to halt the state capture project are impeded as long as President Zuma remains in power, and continues to embolden his cronies who have been placed in state owned entities for interests other than serving the public.
“If the ANC fails to take action against the president, we hope that parliamentary proceedings can be speedily instituted to ensure that Zuma no longer remains at the helm of government. Until then, civil society and the public in general, will continue calling for Zuma’s removal from office,” Balton said.