Pres­i­dent fi­nally com­plies with court or­der

The Star Late Edition - - NATION - LOYISO SIDIMBA

PRES­I­DENT Cyril Ramaphosa has fi­nally com­plied with a North Gaut­eng High Court judg­ment or­der­ing him to ex­tend the term of the Zondo Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into State Cap­ture by 24 months.

On Wed­nes­day, Ramaphosa amended the com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence with ef­fect from Novem­ber 29 to in­di­cate that it must sub­mit its fi­nal re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions within a pe­riod of 24 months from March 1 this year.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lows com­mis­sion chair­per­son Deputy Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Zondo’s suc­cess­ful ur­gent high court ap­pli­ca­tion in July call­ing upon var­i­ous per­sons, in­clud­ing Ramaphosa and Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Busi Mkhwe­bane, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and other or­gan­i­sa­tions, to show cause on Oc­to­ber 2 why the pe­riod of 180 days should not be ex­tended by 24 months from March 1.

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 hav­ing to be con­cerned that in a few months’ time it might 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, Zondo said the com­mis­sion in­tended to com­plete the hear­ing of ev­i­dence around Au­gust next year and there­after ded­i­cate the rest of the time to an anal­y­sis of the ev­i­dence and the prepa­ra­tion of its re­port.

Early in its pub­lic hear­ings, Zondo cited the de­lay in is­su­ing top-se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ances to com­mis­sion staff as one of the rea­sons for its work be­ing de­layed.

The de­clas­si­fi­ca­tion of con­fi­den­tial state doc­u­ments key in un­rav­el­ling state cap­ture has also been among the rea­sons for de­lays.

Its busi­ness of un­pack­ing the na­ture and ex­tent of state cap­ture has been se­verely ham­pered and de­layed by the un­avail­abil­ity of wit­nesses and im­pli­cated par­ties’ re­luc­tance to ap­pear be­fore the com­mis­sion.

This week, the com­mis­sion had to post­pone its hear­ings be­cause of cer­tain wit­nesses’ un­avail­abil­ity for the re­main­der of the year.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion, other wit­nesses have asked to tes­tify early next year in or­der to cover more is­sues than they ini­tially planned had they tes­ti­fied this week or the next.

It granted the wit­nesses’ re­quests and will re­sume its hear­ings next month.

Law­son Naidoo, ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary of the Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the SA Con­sti­tu­tion (Casac), yes­ter­day told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia that he hoped the com­mis­sion would com­plete its work within the next 15 months.

Casac ini­tially op­posed Zondo’s ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion for an ex­ten­sion as it thought the com­mis­sion wanted an ad­di­tional 24 months, which would have made it 30 months.

How­ever, Casac dropped its op­po­si­tion af­ter it was clar­i­fied that the com­mis­sion wanted an ad­di­tional 18 months.

Naidoo said the com­mis­sion should en­sure that its work did not drag on for too long and to en­sure that it met the March 2020 dead­line.

Cyril Ramaphosa

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