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Modise says ANC was tardy on state capture

South African deserve apology - National Assembly speaker

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Speaker of parliament Thandi Modise testifies at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg. File photo.
Speaker of parliament Thandi Modise testifies at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The ANC should have promptly acted when state capture allegations relating to former president Jacob Zuma and his controversial ties with the Gupta family surfaced within the party’s structures several years ago.

This is according to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, who testified before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday alongside National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo.

Modise said South Africans deserved an apology from parliament over its failure to timeously investigate some of the allegations of corruption and state capture when they surfaced as portfolio committees were legally empowered to investigate.

Modise said the ANC should have dealt with the serious allegations when transport minister Fikile Mbalula revealed to the party’s national executive committee that he had been told by the Guptas in 2011 that he was to be appointed by Zuma as the minister of sport.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe has told the commission that the party’s integrity commission had told Zuma to step aside as early as 2013 over the allegations.

Modise said the party should have probed and taken action over the matter as some of the revelations were made in its top structures, including by Mbalula, before MPs were expected to act on the matter.

“The ANC, knowing, getting evidence and perhaps even proof, should have dealt with their internal problem and should have acted rather than to say ‘we will sit back and see if parliament will take this matter’.

“If Mantashe said that they knew as early as 2013 that they should have done something about it in their collective so that today we don’t hammer MPs who do not sit in that NEC and who may not have heard at firsthand what Mbalula had said at that time,” she said.

However, Modise admitted before the commission that parliamentary portfolio committees had been wrong by dragging their feet in investigating various allegations of corruption that had been reported in the public domain.

She said the portfolio committee on public enterprise was erroneous in refusing to initiate an inquiry into the Eskom-related corruption allegations against the Guptas in 2017 on the basis of a legal opinion that said it had no powers to summon them and investigate their alleged activities.

“When members are sworn in they do not only get the constitution, they also get the copy of the rules, so even an ordinary member who is not a chairperson would have known that it was and still is within the powers of the committee to investigate,” Modise said.

She told the commission that MPs had been likely reluctant to take on the executive as part of oversight as they feared that this could limit their political careers and that they would be viewed as behaving like opposition MPs.

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