Parliament woke up too late to state capture, Modise tells Zondo commission
Johannesburg - Parliament only “woke up and smelled the coffee” on the extent to which the State was captured when it was too late, said Speaker in the National Parliament, Thandi Modise, who appeared before the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday.
She even went to the extent of apologising for their late reaction.
Modise told the Commission that Parliament only really “woke up” after the Constitutional Court’s ruling on upgrades at former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
“After the allegations of state capture, it was important for us to begin focusing the committees and Parliament into pointedly being deliberate about following up on issues. And that is what we intend to intensify before this term of Parliament finishes,” she said.
She added that it was also the “Gupta leaks” – a series of emails linking ministers with state capture – that made the allegations more real.
Modise said that sometimes when allegations surfaced, members of Parliament assumed it could be "politicking" and that got in the way of holding their peers accountable.
She declined to answer a question on whether she and then deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa discussed state capture.
In her testimony, Modise explained how Parliament organised itself to conduct oversights.
She said she did not know why there was no action taken when serious allegations of state capture surfaced, and that members of Parliament needed to know that their mandate was not just making laws, but policing the existing laws.
Evidence-leader Alec Freund questioned why committees declined to conduct investigations into state capture, while referring to the delay in providing a report of the investigation into the naturalisation of the Gupta family. The decision was at first rejected but later overturned by then Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Modise said Parliament could not have known “every little thing”, but she was grateful that the “disconnect” was pointed out.
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Amos Masondo, also appeared briefly before the commission on Monday. He and Modise made a joint submission about oversight and accountability in government.
Masondo said that one of the most important roles of the NCOP was accountability and that there was always room for improvement in the question of oversight.
An affidavit by a member of the ANC’s Integrity Commission confirmed that it called former president Jacob Zuma to appear before it in 2016. Zuma allegedly requested that no minutes be taken of the meeting and it not be recorded.
At the meeting, the Integrity Commission told Zuma why they believed he should step down and after two hours of Zuma replying, the commission did not change its mind, the affidavit said.
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe returned to the commission in the late afternoon. He told the commission that state capture started as “corporate capture” and that the ANC took its time to react to it because it was busy “theorising it“ and then the party decided that there must be a commission into state capture.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said it was really concerning if anybody was trying to intimidate the commission from doing its job. He was commenting after the commission's Parktown offices were broken into over the weekend. A laptop and desktop computer was stolen.
Justice Zondo also confirmed that during the week he got a report that there was a bullet that was found in one of the offices.
"They must know that the commission will not be intimidated," he said.
Justice Zondo said the commission's officials sacrificed lots of their time to do the work of the commission and were dedicated to their work.
"We are determined to do what we are required to do up to the end of time," he said.
Criminal cases for both incidents have been opened at the Hillbrow police station, spokesperson for the commission Mbuyiselo Stemela confirmed.