All pres­i­dents on ANC’s cap­ture-probe wit­ness list

Sunday Times - - POLITICS - QAANITAH HUNTER

THE ANC wants Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and all liv­ing for­mer pres­i­dents since 1994 to tes­tify be­fore a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture.

This is ac­cord­ing to ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe. He told the Sun­day Times that the list of wit­nesses should also in­clude all min­is­ters since 1994.

They should give ev­i­dence about the in­flu­ence of the pri­vate sec­tor on the state in a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture, to be set up with a broad­ened scope.

This comes as the ANC called on the govern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate the ve­rac­ity of e-mails that have been leaked to the me­dia. The mails show how the Gup­tas in­flu­enced the ex­ec­u­tive and state-owned en­ti­ties.

When asked if the ANC wanted Zuma and other past pres­i­dents to tes­tify, Man­tashe said “ev­ery­body in govern­ment” must ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion.

“We want to know: is the pri­vate sec­tor in­flu­enc­ing de­ci­sions in govern­ment and has govern­ment worked as its agent?” said Man­tashe.

But ANC spokesman Zizi Kod- wa pointed out that, legally, it would be up to the com­mis­sion who to call.

While Zuma has ar­gued that an in­quiry could be ap­pointed only af­ter the out­come of his ap­pli­ca­tion to re­view the State of Cap­ture re­port — compiled by for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela — Kodwa said the ANC wanted the com­mis­sion set up “as in yes­ter­day”.

Kodwa said that while the ANC called for the scope and the terms of ref­er­ence to be broad­ened, it could not be a gen­er­alised ex­er­cise.

“You see, you can’t cre­ate a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to be a cir­cus. It has to be spe­cific. You got to make the al­le­ga­tions [against the Gup­tas] as a ref­er­ence point . . . those al­le­ga­tions in the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­port,” he said.

“You can’t have a com­mis­sion that is open-ended. You need a com­mis­sion that re­sponds to those al­le­ga­tions to test the ve­rac­ity of those al­le­ga­tions,” he said, adding that the al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture might be the tip of an ice­berg.

Zuma is op­posed to Madon­sela’s rec­om­men­da­tion that the com­mis­sion be headed by a judge to be cho­sen by Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng.

The de­ci­sion to sup­port calls for an in­quiry was taken at the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing last weekend where Zuma sur­vived an­other mo­tion of no con­fi­dence.

Should Zuma be asked to ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion, he would have to an­swer ques­tions about the Gup­tas’ in­flu­ence over some of his cab­i­net min­is­ters and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the fam­ily and his son Duduzane.

In pre­vi­ous in­ter­views Zuma claimed that he was not the first pres­i­dent to have re­la­tions with the Gupta fam­ily.

Zuma’s sup­port­ers in the NEC suc­ceeded in broad­en­ing the scope of the in­quiry in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the Gup­tas.

In­sid­ers who at­tended last weekend’s meet­ing said a dis­cus­sion on the Gup­tas’ in­flu­ence was si­lenced with an agree­ment that an in­quiry into state cap­ture be es­tab­lished.

“We said it must be broad­ened and not con­cen­trated on [the Gup­tas].

“Oth­ers proposed that it must start from 1948. But oth­ers said 1994 . . . and that is what we agreed,” the insider said.

This de­ci­sion saved Zuma amid calls for him to be re­moved as head of state.

In­sid­ers said it was ANC Youth League pres­i­dent Collen Maine who blocked the dis­cus­sion about the leaked e-mails, telling the meet­ing the NEC could not dis­cuss “news­pa­per clips”.

When Zuma’s op­po­nents brought up the cab­i­net reshuf­fle and the sub­se­quent rat­ings down­grades, his loy­al­ists had a firm defence.

“We told them that that mat­ter was solved a long time ago . . . the pres­i­dent was within his right to reshuf­fle his cab­i­net and he will con­sult the next time,” said a third source, known to be loyal to Zuma.

Zuma’s back­ers also had to shield the pres­i­dent from ac­cu­sa­tions that his blun­ders were to blame for the party’s poor per­for­mance in the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

Zuma had the last word at the meet­ing that sat for two days de­bat­ing whether he should be re­moved as head of state.

He reached for an old defence, dar­ing lead­ers of the ANC to come to him di­rectly with proof of his cor­rup­tion.

Zuma’s an­gry and firm re­sponse to the de­bate was widely seen as a threat to any­one want­ing to bring a sim­i­lar mo­tion against him again.

We want to know: is the pri­vate sec­tor in­flu­enc­ing de­ci­sions in govern­ment? You see, you can’t cre­ate a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to be a cir­cus. It has to be spe­cific

Pic­ture: MADELENE CRONJÉ

WIT­NESSES WANTED: Gwede Man­tashe says all pres­i­dents and min­is­ters must tes­tify

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