Parliament has come out in full defence of itself against Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s scathing criticism that it has been lackadaisical and slow to implement recommendations made in his state capture report.
Parliament’s presiding officers, including Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nkaqula and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo, sought private audience with Zondo on Wednesday, following his comments on the one year anniversary of the handover of the state capture report.
The meeting, held at Constitutional Hill, has been described as cordial, frank and respectful by both the head of the Judiciary and Parliament’s presiding officers.
However, after being accused of trying to silence Zondo and evade responsibility, Parliament’s Mapisa-Nkaqula said the point of the meeting was to have a frank discussion about his concerns raised in the public domain rather than with them directly.
“We do not want to send a message to South Africans that there is instability in the country,” she said.
Mapisa-Nkaqula said when they learnt of Zondo’s comments made in a public forum, they were “shocked and did not expect it” as there was no prior consultation and such discussions should have been had together, and directly, between the arms of the state.
Marking one year since the state capture reports were handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zondo expressed dismay that there had been slow progress in implementing the recommendations in the report. He particularly pointed to Parliament for its failure to respond with urgency to his recommendations.
Most of the recommendations that the Commission made to Parliament related to the need to improve its capacity, strengthen its oversight mechanisms and possible legislative interventions that could strengthen accountability to South Africans.
Mapisa-Nkaqula added that since there was currently no established mechanism where the Judiciary and Parliament regularly share information, and there was no formal requirement for Parliament to provide progress reports to the Chief Justice on the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, “this may have resulted in a situation where the Chief Justice may not have been aware of the progress that the institution has been making with regard to matters raised in the report.”
The two had also agreed to have regular meetings in the future to discuss these matters of mutual interest.