Zuma sets up commission of inquiry into state capture

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Karabo Ngoepe

JOHANNESBURG- President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

This comes after remedial actions of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report and court judgements compelled him to do so in order to fully understand the extent of undue influence on government from external forces.

“Pursuant to the investigation and remedial action of the Public Protector regarding complaints and allegations of the State of Capture, as well as the orders issued by the North Gauteng High Court in its judgment of 14 December 2017, I have decided to appoint a Commission of Inquiry,” Zuma said in a statement.

“The Court ordered that, among other things, the remedial action of the Public Protector is binding, and that the President is directed to appoint a commission of inquiry within 30 days, headed by a judge solely selected by the Chief Justice. The Court also ordered that I should personally pay the costs of the review.”

Zuma has challenged Madonsela’s report since it was released with court action, but the court ruled against him. He said he has appealed the cost order as well as the order regarding the duties of the President to appoint commissions of inquiry in terms of section 84 of the Constitution.

Despite having challenged the court ruling, he said he wanted to bring the matter to finality as it has been in the public for some time. He said he was challenging it on the basis that it was a judicial overreach for a judge to decide who should head the inquiry. The president is the one sets up commissions of inquiries and the judges who head them.

“I have considered this matter very carefully, including the unprecedented legal implications of the order directing the Chief Justice to select a single judge to head the commission of inquiry. I have expressed my reservations about the legality of this directive, which may be the subject of the appeal. I would like to emphasise that I have faith in all the judges and their ability to execute their tasks with the requisite levels of fairness, impartiality and independence. I requested the Chief Justice to provide me with the name of the judge to head the Commission. He has selected Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Mnyamezeli Mlungisi Zondo to undertake this task,” he said.

Zuma added that him having acted on the judgement did not mean the case has been finalised. He said he was taking further legal advice on the prosecution of his appeal.

“I am concerned that this matter has occupied the public mind for some time now and deserves urgent attention. I have only appealed the orders to the extent that they set a particular precedent for the Office of the President of the Republic and are indeed deserving of legal certainty,” he said.

At the centre of the issue of State Capture have been Zuma’s close allies, the Gupta family which have been said to have made cabinet appointments. Zuma said the allegations that the state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners, the people of South Africa, was of paramount importance and therefore deserving of finality and certainty.

“Accordingly, I have decided that, while the issues determined by the order require a final determination by higher courts, this matter cannot wait any longer. It is of such serious public concern that any further delay will make the public doubt government’s determination to dismantle all forms of corruption, and entrench the public perception that the state has been captured by private interests for nefarious and self-enrichment purposes. The commission must seek to uncover not just the conduct of some, but of all those who may have rendered our state or parts thereof vulnerable to control by forces other than the public for which government is elected,” he said.

Zuma said the commission should leave no area of corruption and culprit spared from the investigations. He called for everyone to cooperate with the commission of inquiry.

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