State cap­ture truth will be heard

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

THE com­mis­sion of in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture has elicited mixed views. The doubt­ing Thomases re­main scep­ti­cal as the hear­ings, ea­gerly awaited by many and called for by for­mer public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela, have fi­nally be­gun.

Bomb­shells have dropped dur­ing pro­ceed­ings which are be­ing broad­cast live on na­tional tele­vi­sion. Some al­le­ga­tions pre­vi­ously made through the me­dia have been con­firmed un­der oath, but many ques­tions re­main. Key are: When will the cor­rupt be put be­hind bars? And can the public money be re­cov­ered?

Peo­ple want re­course, prose­cu­tion, jus­tice and the restora­tion of state or­gans. Our econ­omy and coun­try needs to be re­stored to re­vive its growth and de­vel­op­ment. Cor­rup­tion and the cor­rupt must be rooted out of gov­ern­ment and so­ci­ety. South Africans are per­fectly jus­ti­fied in their im­pa­tience.

Ques­tions have also been raised about many as­pects of the com­mis­sion, in­clud­ing its terms of ref­er­ence and some of its mem­bers. Some doubt chief in­ves­ti­ga­tor Ter­ence Nombembe’s suit­abil­ity and the wis­dom of ap­point­ing a sit­ting judge as its head.

Based on past ex­pe­ri­ences, some have ques­tioned whether such a probe is worth the hefty costs in time and money. The re­al­ity is that com­mis­sions are a tool de­signed to in­ves­ti­gate complicated and con­tentious is­sues such as the al­le­ga­tions be­fore Deputy Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Zondo.

In­deed, all that can come out of the com­mis­sion are find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions. But it’s how the pow­ers that be use these cru­cial find­ings that af­fect the shape of pol­icy and ac­tion plans to rem­edy the wrong and pre­vent a re­cur­rence of the cor­rup­tion. For­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner Riah Phiyega lost her job fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from the Far­lam Com­mis­sion. While more heads should have rolled, it can­not be ar­gued that noth­ing came out of that probe.

As the Zondo com­mis­sion hear­ings get into full swing, it’s in­cum­bent on ev­ery cit­i­zen to as­sist with in­for­ma­tion, to fol­low pro­ceed­ings and learn so each and ev­ery one of us can do our part to pre­vent the re­cur­rence of state cap­ture. Re­act­ing to the DA’s re­quest to take direct part in the hear­ings, Zondo told the party, “like any mem­ber of the public, it is free to present any rel­e­vant doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence to the com­mis­sion’s le­gal team”. So the door is open to any­one with in­for­ma­tion to come for­ward and as­sist.

It may not seem like it to many, but the coun­try may slowly be turn­ing the cor­ner and mov­ing away from what the com­mis­sion’s next wit­ness, Vytjie Men­tor, cor­rectly re­ferred to as the abyss. And all of us have a role to play.

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