Zondo calls for permanent state capture inquiry to hold MPs to account

Chief justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday reflected on the commission of inquiry and proposed solutions to ensure state capture does not happen again.
Chief justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday reflected on the commission of inquiry and proposed solutions to ensure state capture does not happen again.
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One of the best solutions to prevent another state capture disaster is to establish a permanent commission of inquiry to hold MPs, the president and ministers accountable regarding allegations of corruption.

Chief justice Raymond Zondo addressed a colloquium hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria on Thursday, a year after he handed two reports to President Cyril Ramaphosa following the inquiry into state capture which he chaired from 2018.

He said state capture — when a president makes decisions for their own interests and that of friends and family instead of citizens — was a risk to South Africa's democracy.

He blamed the National Assembly for failing to prevent and end state capture as the ANC was against investigating the allegations of capture and the Gupta family.

“If another group of people were to do what the Guptas did to pursue state capture ... parliament would still not be able to stop it. That is because I have seen nothing has changed,” said Zondo.

“The constitution provides that the National Assembly is elected to represent the people. When the National Assembly fails to protect the people against state capture, it fails in this duty. When you represent someone in a forum, you are meant to protect that person's interests — and if you fail to do that, you fail in your duty.”

Zondo proposed a permanent anti-state capture and anti-corruption commission similar to the one he chaired for senior government officials to answer to allegations.

This would create strong public opinion which would force MPs to act, he said.

“[The commission] can call anybody, whether it’s the president or MPs or any minister, to come to answer and give evidence where there are allegations of corruption and state capture — so that even if the majority in parliament does not want questions asked or protects ministers and the president from questions, that commission would be an opportunity for everything to be explored and the evidence and answers to be given in the open.”

The last option in preventing state capture, he said, is in the hands of the country’s citizens who should ensure they do not elect leaders who overlook corruption.

 “I believe in active citizenry. I believe the people of South Africa must take their destiny into their own hands. They must see which leaders are tolerant of corruption.

“It [South Africa] needs leaders prepared to fight corruption. When everything else fails, it is the people that give me hope. It is you that I believe will ensure this country is turned around.”


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