Business Leadership SA welcomes the President’s establishment of the independent judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, to be chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Mnyamezeli Mlungisi Zondo, announced last night.
It was 15 months ago when the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela published her report, State of Capture, detailing how far our country and government had been subsumed by the twin cancer of corruption and state capture. This was later reiterated by both the SA Council of Churches and professors from four universities, not to mention the so-called Gupta emails released into the public domain.
For many South Africans, these reports simply confirmed what they already knew: the state capture project is for the personal gain of the very few. State capture remains rife within our society, and South Africa continues to suffer the consequences from this crisis of confidence in the legitimacy of government.
We are emboldened by the fact that, at last, the much-awaited inquiry has been appointed to get to the root cause of the scourge of state capture which has diverted into private hands billions of taxpayers’ funds.
We also applaud Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for speedily discharging the responsibility of providing a single name of Deputy Chief Justice to the President – as directed both by the Public Protector and most recently, the North Gauteng High Court.
BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said: “We find it disturbing though that the President has elected to appoint the commission without withdrawing his reckless and ill-advised appeal against both the Public Protector’s remedial action and the North Gauteng High Court’s ruling. The continued appeal opens the Commission to further costly, avoidable and protracted litigation. We are relieved that the latest court ruling by Judge President Dunston Mlambo finally ordered the President to pay the cost of litigation from his own pocket.”
He added: “We also strongly condemn the move by the President to seek to rewrite, through stealth, the terms of reference of the Zondo commission of inquiry. Both the Public Protector and the North Gauteng High Court made it clear that the former Public Protector’s State of Capture report had to form the basis of the inquiry. We deem the President’s remarks, intimating that Justice Zondo should broaden the scope of the inquiry, as an inappropriate attempt to redefine the terms of reference of the investigation.”
Coming as it does – weeks after the ANC’s 54th National Conference and a day before the first meeting of the new ANC National Executive Committee – the announcement appears like a cynical ploy to manage intra-ANC dynamics instead of advancing what’s in the best interest of the country. Putting the party’s, ahead of the country’s, interests has been the hallmark of this President’s tenure.
We wish Justice Zondo all the very best in this important task, and urge all South Africans to cooperate fully with the commission. We have full confidence that Judge Zondo will discharge his mandate without fear or favour, and will ignore the suggestions by the President to redefine the terms of reference for him.
“Business also can and must do better, and we will. But it is primarily the responsibility of government to tackle both corruption and state capture by instituting the independent judicial commission of inquiry, so that we can instead focus together on the vital tasks of transformation, job creation and inclusive economic growth that South Africans so desperately need,” said Mohale.