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SACC wants Mkhwebane to explain call for scope of state capture inquiry to be expanded

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVUIphotory

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has written to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane expressing its fear that her suggestion that President Jacob Zuma expand the scope of the terms of reference in the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture would become an “open ended mission creep that will effectively blunt the purpose of the remedial action”.

The letter‚ signed by the SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana‚ was sent to Mkhwebane on Monday and queries the legal status of her intention to help Zuma broaden the scope of the terms of reference.

“In summary Madam Public Protector‚ we seek your clarification on the intended legal status of the Public Protector’s call to the President to expand and nuance the terms of reference as cited in the Public Protector’s public statement?” the letter reads.

Mkhwebane said in a statement last Wednesday that Zuma should not limit the terms of reference for a commission of inquiry into state capture to the findings of her predecessor Thuli Madonsela's report‚ but he should ensure that the terms are broad enough to cover allegations concerning the state and all its entities.

Her statement came a day after Zuma announced that he would be establishing the commission of inquiry into state capture which would be led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The SACC said they want to know what the legal status of Mkhwebane’s suggestion is and whether it should be regarded as change to the recommendations made in the State of Capture report released by the office of the public protector in 2016.

“Our concern‚ Madam Public Protector‚ stems from our understanding and firm belief that the reason that the remedial action of your office as public protector‚ required this judicial commission of inquiry was solely to conclude on the specific matters that had been initiated‚” Mpumlwana wrote.

The SACC said it did not believe that Madonsela’s recommendation that a judicial commission of inquiry be instituted was meant to have a wide scope.

“We do not believe that the purpose was to generally address any matters that might arise post the report in regard to the State‚” Mpumlwana wrote.

The church body also indicated that it intended to write to Justice Zondo on his understanding of the matter on whether the public protector could broaden the terms of reference on the commission of inquiry.

Zuma is yet to release the terms of reference but ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said over the weekend that the terms of reference must be in line with Madonsela’s recommendation and the scope should not be broad.

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