ANC’s state capture scandal looks set to go unpunished
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.