Jacob Zuma throws curve­ball

Pres­i­dent ap­points com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture

African Times - - Front Page - RUS­SEL MOLEFE

PRES­I­DENT Jacob Zuma has hit the newly elected ANC lead­er­ship with a curve­ball just hours be­fore dis­cus­sions into his fu­ture were set to take place, with the an­nounce­ment of the ap­point­ment of a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into State Cap­ture.

This comes months af­ter for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela in her re­port rec­om­mended he does so in her re­me­dial ac­tions.

Zuma chal­lenged the re­me­dial ac­tions in court, but the High Court in Pre­to­ria ruled against him in late 2017.

“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 the court rul­ing, ar­gu­ing that it was a ju­di­cial over­reach to strip him of the pow­ers to ap­point a judge to head the com­mis­sion. 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. The Con­sti­tu­tion says the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic is the one who can set up com­mis­sions of in­quiries and the judges to head them up.

De­spite hav­ing chal­lenged the court rul­ing, he said he wanted to put the mat­ter to bed as it has been a topic of dis­cus­sion for a very long time.

“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,” he said.

Zuma added that he had al­ready re­quested Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng to pro­vide him with a name of the per­son who should head the in­quiry. Mo­go­eng se­lected Deputy Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Mnyamezeli Mlungisi Zondo to “un­der­take the task”.

Putting aside his le­gal chal­lenge, Zuma said the mat­ter de­served im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion to re­store con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment. His move comes as mum­mer­ing’s re­gard­ing his re­moval gain trac­tion. Party mem­bers and some Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­bers have been com­plain­ing about the is­sue of two cen­tres of power - him be­ing the coun­try’s pres­i­dent and Cyril Ramaphosa lead­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion. His fail­ure to es­tab­lish the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry has been one of the un­der­pin­ning grounds for the calls of his re­moval.

“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.

Zuma’s re­la­tion­ship with the Gupta fam­ily has come un­der se­vere scru­tiny with Madon­sela’s re­port say­ing the fam­ily was mak­ing cab­i­net ap­point­ments.

For­mer deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas’ claims that he was of­fered R600 000 by the fam­ily to take over from Nhlanhla Nene as Fi­nance Min­is­ter be­fore he was even re­moved from his po­si­tion gave the claim trac­tion. Jonas claimed he met one of the Gupta broth­ers in Sax­on­world and it was there where he was of­fered the po­si­tion, but he de­clined.

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.

Pic­ture: Vis­ual Buzz SA

Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma.

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