State capture inquiry tug-of-war
FORMER public protector and author of the State Capture report, Thuli Madonsela, believes that the inquiry into the phenomenon cannot and should not be expanded.
Speaking to Independent Media yesterday, Madonsela said the inquiry was merely concluding an investigation that had already started and broadening its scope would be defying the court order.
“This is not about reinventing the wheel. There have been very direct remedial actions categorised in the report but if there are other issues that are picked up along the way, then the president could appoint another commission to investigate those,” she said.
Her words came as current Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane received the cold shoulder from political and civil society when she announced she wanted the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry into state capture to be broadened and not only focus on her predecessor’s report.
Mkhwebane also offered her services to assist in compiling the terms of reference for the broadened inquiry.
“Having perused some of the evidence at her disposal and public domain, the public protector also calls upon the president to ensure that the terms of reference are broad enough to include the capture of all state institutions and state-owned entities, so that the ability of the commission to uncover the full extent of State Capture is not constrained in any manner,” said her spokesperson Cleopatra Mosana.
She added that as part of her responsibility to monitor the implementation of the remedial action, she would make herself available “to ensure the full and successful investigation of alleged state capture in the Republic.”
But her services were not needed and the terms of reference must follow the Constitutional Court findings, according to political activists and civil society.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said Mkhwebane should “stop fooling herself ” and advised her to read the findings and remedial actions from the court and her predecessor.
“The judgment is clear. Her services are not needed and this inquiry does not need to be broadened,” he added.
Executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Lawson Naidoo found Mkhwebane’s offer “inappropriate”.
He echoed the call for Mkhwebane to fall back, saying that the former public protector’s report and the December court judgment must be used as the basis for the term of reference.
“There is a court finding in this matter and it is inappropriate for her to say she wants to draw up the terms of reference. It has to be done in line with the court finding and the report itself and the remedial action must be taken in its totality and not in parts,” Naidoo said.
He said that with the need for the inquiry to be completed in six months, there was no time to broaden the terms of reference as it needed to be focused.
Director for non-profit organisation, Open Secrets, Hennie Van Vuuren agreed that the terms needed to be in line with the court judgment.
“With the high-profile nature of this inquiry, it is imperative that there is full compliance,” Van Vuuren said.
He added it was understandable the public was apprehensive about Mkhwebane’s offer as she did not prove her trustworthiness. “The public has every right to be wary of the conduct of her office,” he said.
The SACP said that instead of being seen protecting the public, Mkhwebane’s actions reflected an “embedded if not captured person using the authority of the public protector to advocate such sectarian politics” and had the potential effect of bringing the image of the office into disrepute.
“Busisiwe Mkhwebane must desist from temptations to use the authority of the public protector to propagate populist and factional politics.
“Mkhwebane’s utterances regarding the terms of reference of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture are a latest case in point,” said SACP communications head and spokesperson Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo.
UNDER FIRE: Busisiwe Mkhwebane.