Getting cash for State Capture inquiry has been a struggle‚ Zondo says in his extension application
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says delays in State Capture inquiry staff obtaining “top secret” security clearance and “significant delays” in the commission securing funding from government have hampered it in getting off the ground.
Zondo said in May that the commission would cost an estimated R230-million in the first six months of its existence. He has now successfully applied for its timeframe to be extended to two years‚ but it’s unclear what the cost implications of that extension may be.
What is clear‚ according to an affidavit filed by Zondo‚ is that obtaining funding from government for the inquiry‚ ordered by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ had also been a struggle “since March 2018”.
“The reason for this is that many engagements had to be held with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development‚ the National Treasury and‚ to a lesser extent‚ the State Security Agency‚ in order to be able to explain to these institutions that the commission’s funding and procurement process could not simply follow the template of other commissions of inquiry‚” he said in court papers.
This‚ he argued‚ was because “given the subject matter of the commission‚ it was very important to be able to ensure the confidentiality of many of its operations so that the integrity of its information could not be compromised in any way”.
On May 16‚ Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene approved the inquiry’s budget.
In an affidavit filed at the Pretoria High Court‚ Zondo has also revealed that the Inquiry into State Capture is expected to start hearing evidence in August. He’s expected to announce the date for the start of those hearings at a press conference on Friday.
Zondo successfully applied for a provisional extension of the inquiry’s timeframe from 180 days to two years after revealing‚ what he says‚ were factors that had related the commission in getting off the ground.
One of these factors‚ he said‚ was the need for certain inquiry staff to be given “top secret” security clearance.
“This process is managed by the State Security Agency. There have been delays in the completion of the process‚” Zondo said.
“I am told this is because of staff changes in the State Security Agency as well as requirements of members of the investigation team‚ and possibly other members of the commission‚ to have top secret clearance. There are still some security clearances that are outstanding from the State Security Agency.”
Zondo’s inquiry is focused on a number of issues and allegations identified in Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report‚ including claims that the Gupta family attempted to bribe former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas‚ and questions over the role allegedly played by the family in other government appointments. It is also mandated‚ among other things‚ to investigate whether government tenders and contracts were unlawfully awarded as part of the so-called “State Capture” project.
Further‚ the commission needs to probe whether any member of the executive “unlawfully or corruptly intervened in the matter of the closing of banking facilities of the Gupta family”.