Johannesburg – A judicial commission of inquiry into state capture must be fast-tracked or the African National Congress must brace itself for defeat in the 2019 elections, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) said on Saturday.

The delay in finalising an inquiry into allegations of state capture was eroding public confidence in governance institutions and increasing the chances of hurting the ANC in the 2019 elections, Sanco national spokesman Jabu Mahlangu said.

“It is not up to the actors implicated by the damning #GuptaEmailLeaks to question how evidence presented by Amabhungane investigative team was obtained when the probe is stalled at government level,” he said.

Mahlangu appealed for negative perceptions about a "mafia state" to be speedily addressed.

The admissibility or non-admissibility of emerging evidence purportedly supporting allegations of state capture and the manner it was presented in the public domain should also be dealt with in the scope of the inquiry.

“Those implicated should be demanding an opportunity to disprove and clear their names for their alleged involvement through the commission and not be seen to be protecting their skins and or positions they are holding. Our economic recovery efforts and reversing credit downgrades by rating agencies depend on this probe,” he said.

Sanco was concerned that once appointed, the commission would not be able to conclude its work before the general elections. He also raised concern about the multiplicity of corruption cases being opened to probe the same allegations in a piecemeal manner.

“It should be obvious that extending the scope of the probe will inevitably result in a protracted process that will overlap beyond 2019 if one takes into account appeals and reviews that are likely to emerge once the report is tabled. The stakes will be too high.”

A protracted inquiry would benefit opposition parties’ election campaigns which would be aiming at deriving maximum political mileage out of it, Mahlangu said.