ANC’s state cap­ture scan­dal looks set to go un­pun­ished

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - OPINION - NATASHA MARRIAN

THE ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture is seem­ingly ur­gent for ev­ery­one ex­cept Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. State cap­ture, like many other po­ten­tial crim­i­nal or cor­rupt prac­tices in­volv­ing the state, is in dan­ger of be­ing swept under the car­pet. It will be an­other arms deal, dis­cussed for years, but with­out any real res­o­lu­tion and no per­pe­tra­tors brought to book.

Yes, Zuma paid back the money on Nkandla, but where is the case against his ar­chi­tect or any other of­fi­cial accused of in­flat­ing prices? For­mer crime in­tel­li­gence boss Richard Md­luli is still run­ning around on his sixth year of paid sus­pen­sion.

Zuma’s ANC is in­deed, as for­mer Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi fa­mously said, one of Ab­so­lutely No Con­se­quences.

It is an in­dict­ment on both our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and our pol­i­tics. Espe­cially our politicians. Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa told par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day that set­ting up the com­mis­sion was “ur­gent”. It was also “ur­gent” when he ad­dressed par­lia­ment in June.

Ramaphosa has also told par­lia­ment that the coun­try and the con­sti­tu­tion were more im­por­tant than the party. But the con­duct of his party and his gov­ern­ment tell an en­tirely dif­fer­ent story.

At its na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing in May, the ANC sup­ported a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture, say­ing it should be set up “ur­gently”. Jour­nal­ists were also told the de­ci­sion was sep­a­rate from the rec­om­men­da­tion in for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port on state cap­ture re­leased in Oc­to­ber last year – that the com­mis­sion could, in fact, be broader than Madon­sela en­vi­sioned.

In her re­port, State of Cap­ture, she rec­om­mended the set­ting up of a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry, with the judge to be se­lected by Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng. Zuma is chal­leng­ing this rec­om­men­da­tion in court, ar­gu­ing that only he is con­sti­tu­tion­ally al­lowed to ap­point a judge to pre­side over such a com­mis­sion.

Zuma back­ers ar­gue that the de­lay in set­ting up the com­mis­sion is a re­sult of the pres­i­dent await­ing the out- come of the re­view process, a po­si­tion en­tirely at odds with what the ANC an­nounced at its post-NEC brief­ing.

The gov­ern­ing party can­not be taken at its word be­cause its pres­i­dent is a law unto him­self. And his ad­min­is­tra­tion is fol­low­ing suit. Take the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice; its sec­ond in charge, Jonas Mak­wakwa, will have been sus­pended for a year come Septem­ber af­ter dis­clo­sures of sus­pi­cious and ir­reg­u­lar trans­ac­tions flow­ing into his bank ac­counts and that of his girl­friend.

Then there is Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane, who an­nounced a far-reach­ing bank­ing probe as a cab­i­net de­ci­sion, when in fact it was not. Zuma at the time said Zwane had been “rep­ri­manded”.

The high court judg­ment on the cab­i­net’s in­ter­ven­tion in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween banks and their clients was a fur­ther in­dict­ment of Zwane. It made it clear “there is no statute that em­pow­ers a mem­ber of the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive to in­ter­vene in a pri­vate bank-client dis­pute”.

Even more wor­ry­ing than Zwane’s fake state­ments is that the en­tire cab­i­net agreed to an in­ter­min­is­te­rial task team to look into the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the banks and the Gupta fam­ily, who are now sell­ing as­sets to over­come their bank­ing woes. The fam­ily be­came more au­da­cious in Zuma’s sec­ond term – this was af­ter he had the se­cu­rity clus­ter and its agen­cies firmly under his thumb.

The Gup­tas are now sell­ing off their as­sets and the ANC’s call for a ju­di­cial in­quiry into state cap­ture has amounted to noth­ing. The big scan­dal of the ANC’s sec­ond decade in of­fice looks set to go un­pun­ished, just like the one that plagued the first.

ý Marrian is po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor of Busi­ness Day.

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