10 January 2018

South Africa: Potential State Capture Inquiry Witnesses Want to See Terms of Reference

Potential key witnesses in the commission of inquiry into state capture and political parties have expressed scepticism at President Jacob Zuma's surprise announcement, saying that they want to see the terms of reference of the commission.

Zuma announced the establishment of the commission, which is to be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Tuesday evening - ahead of the ANC's national executive committee meeting on Wednesday.

Discussions relating to his fate, are expected to take place at the meeting, amid concerns over two centres of power, with Zuma as state president and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, as the party's president.

Zuma was vague on the terms of reference of the commission, only saying that it will reach "areas of concern that may not have been reached by the Public Protector's investigation" because of lack of resources.

"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 [the] government is elected," Zuma said.

Former ANC member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor said, while the decision caught her by surprise, she was concerned that Zuma was not explicit that the commission's terms of reference will be according to former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendations.

"I will only put myself forward to a judicial commission of inquiry, not just a simple commission, and secondly, one that is formed in 100% adherence to the prescripts of Madonsela and as endorsed by the court," Mentor told News24.

She told Madonsela during her inquiry into state capture that Zuma was present at the Gupta family mansion in Saxonwold when they offered her a job as a Minister of Public Enterprises in exchange for cancelling the South African Airways route to India.

She wanted Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to corroborate that he had indeed recommended Zondo as the sole judge to head the commission and wants Zuma to confirm that the commission will have powers to "bite".

"Zuma has lied to us as a nation so many times, I take it with a pinch of salt when he says Zondo's name was given by [the] chief justice.

Silent around terms of reference

"I am not going to be lured by a red herring. What Zuma did yesterday is a red herring, which is a deviation from what has been prescribed, which is also a breach of the court," she said.

Former cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko also tweeted last night: "We've wasted a full year. Anyway, this is good news. I am happy and welcome the announcement. I just hope they don't mess up the terms of reference."

Maseko also testified to Madonsela that Zuma had personally called him asking him to direct Government Communication and Information Services business to the family.

The SACP has also expressed concern that Zuma's announcement was silent about the specific terms of reference.

In a statement, the party reiterated its March call for Zuma to step down.

"It would be inappropriate for the president to decide the terms of reference for an investigation on allegations he is implicated," spokesperson Alex Mashilo said.

The DA called for the terms of reference to be made as broad as possible, to include activities of the Gupta family, their relationship with President Zuma and his family, all dealings by Gupta-linked companies with the state and state-owned entities, the capture of state institutions, including SARS, the NPA and the Hawks and other allegations outlined by Madonsela's State of Capture report.

"We will not allow this commission to be another whitewash that absolves all politically-connected individuals from accountability, and where appropriate, prison. It must be properly staffed, fully funded and free from any political inference," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.

Madonsela told News24 that the commission of inquiry may only focus on state capture allegedly committed by Zuma and Gupta families.

"What has to be investigated is what my (probe) was investigating. There is no room to expand the commission to include what was never investigated," she said.

Source: News24

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