Zondo urged to meet in­quiry dead­line

March 2020 is D-Day after Ramaphosa ex­tends com­mis­sion from 180 days to 24 months

The Mercury - - NATION - LOYISO SIDIMBA [email protected] RAY­MOND ZONDO Jus­tice pre­sid­ing over com­mis­sion

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

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