Call for structured state capture investigation
President said to be buying time by appointing inquiry; NEC urged to recall him
Thuli Madonsela had to endure ridicule
CIVIL-society organisations have called on the state capture investigation to home in on President Jacob Zuma’s alleged influencing of the allocation of tenders to the Gupta family and his son Duduzane.
Corruption Watch spokesperson Tebogo Khaas said the terms of reference of the inquiry, to be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had to be based on former public protector’s Thuli Madonsela’s report – and not unnecessarily broadened as Zuma’s supporters have urged.
Madonsela focused only on the influence of the Gupta family in state affairs.
He said evidence already in the public domain demonstrated that an investigation into state capture by the Gupta and Zuma families would undoubtedly implicate several major private sector firms.
“While there is a good reason to conduct a broad-ranging investigation into state capture through the ages, the State of Capture investigation is specifically concerned with the capture of the state perpetrated by the Gupta family, Zuma and his son,” Khaas said.
Khaas said the pressing problem facing the country was the role of the head of state and his “wealthy cronies” using their access to state power to “feather their own nests”.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) also joined the fray by calling for a structured commission of inquiry. Outa’s chief operating officer (COO) Ben Theron said the announcement was long overdue – 14 months after Madonsela released her report.
“Thuli Madonsela had to endure ridicule, hate speech and embarrassment in relation to her report, which the president now welcomes as if he accepted her remedial action from the start, depicting the farcical nature and opportune timing of his announcement on the eve of the ANC’s NEC meeting,” Theron said.
Zuma announced the commission hours before – and after months of resistance, including a court challenge – the sitting of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) yesterday, during which his detractors had been planning to use the allegations of state capture against him to oust him.
Theron said the timing of Zuma’s announcement of the commission was solely aimed at persuading the ANC’s NEC not to recall him from office.
“Outa believes the president’s decision to appoint this commission is merely a tactic to buy himself more time in the Presidency and that the ANC’s NEC should not be fooled by this move. Instead, we urge the NEC to move swiftly to recall Zuma as president and thereby kickstart the reclamation of South Africa from the destruction of corruption,” Theron said.
Political analysts, too, believe the announcement was “politically timed” in an 11th hour bid to save himself.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the announcement had not been one “from a sincere heart” but was rather a way to anchor Zuma in his position as president of the country to serve out the remainder of his term.
Fikeni said the ANC’s national elective conference had decided that an investigation into state capture should begin.
“He knew his delaying tactics would aggravate the NEC. This is not a concession or a sudden realisation by (Zuma), but he now sees the shrinking fortunes around him and hopes that this latest announcement would boost him politically,” Fikeni said.
Fellow analyst Ralph Mathekga believes Zuma is under siege and that all his decisions have been based on political expedience.
“He is trying to partially remove some of the grounds that the call for his removal was based on. He may be a slight step ahead of the NEC now but he is not able to change people’s minds,” Mathekga said.