Agrizzi as guilty as those people he has fingered

A former executive at corruption-accused facilities management company Bosasa, Angelo Agrizzi, gives testimony on January 16 2018 at the state capture inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg.
A former executive at corruption-accused facilities management company Bosasa, Angelo Agrizzi, gives testimony on January 16 2018 at the state capture inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

It was the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin who first noted that "there are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen".

This ancient observation became potently relevant to most South Africans these past weeks as former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi took centre stage at the State Capture Inquiry, essentially reducing decades of allegations of massive corruption and maladministration into weeks of explosive public revelations.

Exposing devastating files, Agrizzi took the nation into his confidence, outlining what on the face of it looks like a Mario Puzo blockbuster Italian classic movie The Godfather, dwarfed only by what author Tom Burgis termed in his Africa's continental book "The Looting Machine".

Troubling as it were, Agrizzi is nonetheless serving the public interest in that, finally the lid on the scale and depth of the industrialisation of alleged state capture corruption has been lifted from the corporate world, where angels live.

However, we should not become too tamed, too excited, too disappointed, too shocked and too amused to believe that all Agrizzi submitted to the commission is the full circumference of the criminality and corruption that transpired.

As a delinquent company, Bosasa has been eyed by prosecutors and therefore knew that sooner or later, it may fall on its own sword.

Agrizzi may have had his own Damascus moment arising from his troubled conscience and comatose stay in hospital which led him to finally make peace with his Maker and the privileged state protection he now enjoys, but he is as guilty as the people he has fingered in his self-incriminating testimony.

He has revealed the dark side of our besieged governance, and the debilitating, parasitic relationship between the state, politics and business.

Still, the Republic must live beyond the revelations, and the law must take effect to its fullest might, to locate all the looters. In the end, it is the looting and vulgarisation of the poor's public resources, and obscene disregard for the law that deserves social justice. To this end, all the accused must be afforded the opportunity to challenge Agrizzi's assertions, have their version fairly tested and face trials in appropriate platforms.

The institutionalisation, corporatisation and industrialisation of corruption breed public violence, impunity and lawlessness, and often lead to the total state collapse that invites street protests, military coups and hostile rebellions.

Nonetheless, the greatest legacy of the Zondo Commission is that both the public and private sector are justly on "trial", further testing limits of our statehood to re-engineer itself. Inherently, this will set apart the commission in a world wherein commissions are routinely seen as public exercises to cover up criminal misdeeds.

Truth is, state capture as a global phenomenon is as old as the Republic.

However, it's the depth of its obscenity to criminalise the state and its citizenry that disturbs the dead.

For decades, states have been hijacked, corrupted and captured by companies, private interests, business and politicians, leading to the collapse of governance.

And the only way to prevent the collapse is for civil servants to possess what Julius Nyerere calls political morality and revolutionary justice.

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