Cape Town - After four years of hearing evidence about the entrenched corruption in the country's state-owned enterprises and government departments, alleged threats to members of the inquiry, the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, and with more than R1bn spent, state capture commission of inquiry chairperson Raymond Zondo has no regrets.
He said the commission was ready to deal with any review application brought against it by those aggrieved.
Zondo handed over the last part of his report to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria last night.
The final report dealt with matters of the SABC; Estina Dairy Farm; the Guptas’ Waterkloof landing; State Security Agency (SSA) among others entities.
The handover was, however, marred by yet another delay which neither Zondo or Ramaphosa could explain.
It was expected to be handed over to the presidency at 4pm, before being delayed by more than two hours.
Zondo said it had taken an enormous amount of effort by his team to arrive at the final handover and apologised for the delays which saw his commission being extended a number of times.
Had they looked at all the terms of references, including a probe into the country’s law enforcement agencies, it would have taken about 10 years to conclude the commission, he conceded.
“I have had occasion to emphasise how important the work of this commission was. I have indicated the lengths to which I have gone to try and make sure that if anything goes wrong, it shouldn't be because we did try to make sure that things were done right.
“It does not mean that we have not found ourselves in a situation which we would have preferred not to be in. We have had some delays. It would have been difficult to avoid most of those delays if not all of them. I am satisfied that we have done all that we could to make sure that if anything wrong is found by the court, it should not be because we treated the report in a manner that did not show that we appreciate how important it is,” he said.
While Zondo did not want to give finer details of his findings, including whether he had made an adverse finding against Ramaphosa, he said the entire State Capture report would make a significant contribution towards the goal of fighting state capture.
“People have got the right to go to court and challenge the report and the commission will deal with those when they come. But we have tried the best we can,” he said.
Zondo said if faced with the same situation in the future, he would make the same decisions he made during the commission. He had applied to the Constitutional Court after Zuma had failed to appear before him, citing conflict of interest. Zuma had wanted Zondo to recuse himself as the chairperson of the commission before he could continue with his testimony.
Asked whether he had any regrets about some of his decisions, Zondo said: “Whenever I look back at the decisions I have taken at the commission, I struggle to find any decision that I regret. I look back at the decisions I have taken, some very difficult….and when I look back I think I would take the same decisions (when) faced with the same situation again. I cannot think of any decision that I have taken that I would regret. The one thing which I would have liked to have happened differently is the way we started the hearings and the investigations,” he said.
Ramaphosa and Zondo dismissed claims that the delays were caused by their alleged plot to cook the report to implicate former State Security Agency Director General Arthur Fraser, who lodged a criminal complaint against the president over the theft of $4 million at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo in 2020.
“The chief justice had wanted to communicate to me about the time of handing over the report. When he realised that he was not going to make the appointment of handing over the report he felt that he should communicate with me. One has to take us at our word that we have dealt with each other with integrity,” Ramaphosa said.
“We never once wanted to discuss the substance of the work that the chief justice was doing, and not once to even discuss the evidence that I presented to the Commission, which was led by the chief justice. Even if he has made a negative finding against me I will accept that and that is the basis on which we deal with each.”
The president added that Zondo had been “honest, fair and did his work with integrity”.
“I cannot accept the innuendos that have been made that there was any way that the chief justice and I could have discussed the substance of the work. It is quite demeaning actually because it is way below what the chief justice would do. I would not be able to know how to ask the chief justice to comment on the substance of his work because it’s out of his nature,” added Ramaphosa.
For his part, Zondo said he had to delay the handover because the report was not ready and the situation was out of his control.