JOHANNESBURG- The announcement by President Jacob Zuma to set up a Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has been welcomed by political parties but he still received flack afterwards.
The South African Communist Party welcomed the announcement, saying it was long overdue. The further added that it was vindicated for calling on Zuma to establish it back in 2017.
“The commission was first called for by the SACP and then prescribed as a remedial action following an independent investigation by the former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her “State of capture” report,” said spokesperson Alex Mashilo.
He lambasted Zuma for appealing the Pretoria High Court ruling which ordered him to establish the commission within 30 days of the judgement. Mashilo said the decision showed that Zuma finally caved into public pressure.
“Just two days after the 54th National Conference of the ANC last month resolved that the matter must be expedited President Zuma appealed the 14 December 2017 judgment of the North Gauteng High Court ordering him to appoint the commission within 30 days. The appeal was a clear contradiction of the mandate to expedite the matter. The President’s conduct delaying the appointment of the commission would have further prevailed had it not been of mounting public pressure,” he said.
Zuma announced the decision on Tuesday evening, indicating that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would head the inquiry. He also indicated that he would be challenging the ruling for stripping him of his presidential powers to decide who should lead the process. The court said the decision should be made by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Mashilo further attacked Zuma for not specifying the terms of reference for the commission.
“The President in his statement announcing the appointment of the commission was silent about its specific terms reference except that it ‘must seek to uncover not just the conduct of some, but all those who may have rendered our state or parts thereof vulnerable to control by forces other than the public for which government is elected’. It does not matter whether those complicit in the corruption of state capture are members of the public. The state of capture report prescribes that its contents should be the basis for the investigation. It would be inappropriate for the President to decide the terms of reference for an investigation on allegations he is implicated. The situation reaffirms the correctness of the March 2017 decision of the SACP that it was time for President Zuma to resign in the best interests of the ANC, the Alliance and the people of South Africa,” he said.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said Zuma did not deserve any praises for setting up the Commission of Inquiry as the decision was not out of choice but because he had exhausted all available avenues to challenge the remedial actions of former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
“His hand has been forced, as he knew he had no further avenue for delay,” said Maimane.
He added that the party would closely monitor the Commission over the next 180 days. He called on Zuma to make the terms of reference as broadly as possible.
“So as to not inhibit the ability of the Commission to uncover the full extent of State Capture in South Africa, its Terms of Reference must be framed as broadly as possible to include the following: The activities of the Gupta family and their relationship with President Zuma and his family; All dealings by Gupta-linked companies with the State, including all SOEs; The capture of state institutions, including SARS, the NPA and the Hawks; and Every other allegation outlined in the Public Protector’s State of Capture,” he said.
“Moreover, we call on all South Africans who have any evidence of State Capture and corruption in government to bring this information to light, for the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the truth into the light. Parliament must be equipped to deal with all national policies that have allowed State Capture to take root, and the Commission’s findings must be tabled before Parliament on completion,” Maimane added.
He said they would not allow the commission to be another whitewash that absolves all politically connected individuals from accountability, and where appropriate, prison.
“It must be properly staffed, fully funded and free from all political inference,” said Maimane.