Zondo urged to meet inquiry deadline
March 2020 is D-Day after Ramaphosa extends commission from 180 days to 24 months
THE Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) has urged the commission of inquiry into state capture to ensure that it meets its March 2020 deadline to complete its work.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa finally complying with a Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, judgment.
The ruling ordered him to extend the term of the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to 24 months and not the initial 180 days.
On Wednesday, Ramaphosa amended the commission’s terms of reference with effect from November 29.
This means the commission must submit its final report and recommendations within a period of 24 months starting from March 1 this year.
Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo yesterday said he hoped the commission would complete its work within the next 15 months even though he understood it needed adequate time to deal with complex matters.
Casac initially opposed Zondo’s urgent application extension.
Casac had been under the impression that the commission wanted an additional 24 months which would have made it 30 months.
But Casac dropped its opposition after it was clarified that the commission wanted an additional 18 months.
Justice Zondo successfully filed an urgent high court application in July calling on various stakeholders, including Ramaphosa, Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane, political parties and other organisations to show cause on October 2 why the period of 180 days for the inquiry should not be extended Justice for an by 24 months from March 1, 2018.
At the time, Justice Zondo said he was hopeful that if the extension was confirmed the commission would be able to really focus on its work without concern that in a few months’ time it may have to stop its work because the 180 days would be up.
The commission now has until March 2020 to complete its work.
At the high court, Justice Zondo said the commission intended to complete the evidence at around August next year.
Thereafter, the commission would dedicate the rest of the time to an analysis of the evidence and preparation of its report.
Early in its public hearings, Justice Zondo cited the delay in issuing top-secret security clearances to commission staff as one of the reasons its work was delayed as was the declassification of confidential state documents in unravelling state capture.
Its business of unpacking the nature and extent of state capture has also been severely hampered and delayed by unavailability of witnesses and implicated parties’ reluctance to appear before Justice Zondo.
This week, the commission had to postpone its hearings due to certain witnesses’ unavailability for the remainder of the year.
The commission said other witnesses have asked to testify early next year to cover more issues than initially planned.
It granted the witnesses’ requests and will resume its hearings next month.
The extension means we would be able to really focus on the work without concern that time is up