Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced that he appointed Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to head the commission of inquiry into state capture.
"Pursuant to the investigation and remedial action of the Public Protector regarding complaints and allegations of the State of Capture, as well as the orders issued by the North Gauteng High Court in its judgment of 14 December 2017, I have decided to appoint a Commission of Inquiry," Zuma said in a statement.
"The Court ordered that, among other things, the remedial action of the Public Protector is binding and that the President is directed to appoint a commission of inquiry within 30 days, headed by a judge solely selected by the Chief Justice. The Court also ordered that I should personally pay the costs of the review."
Zuma said that he appealed the cost order and the order regarding the duties of the president to appoint commissions of inquiry in terms of section 84 of the Constitution.
"However, I am taking further legal advice on the prosecution of this appeal. I am concerned that this matter has occupied the public mind for some time now and deserves urgent attention."
On December 13, the Pretoria High Court held that Zuma must personally pay the costs of his bid to block the release of then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture in 2016.
Delivering a unanimous judgment on behalf of a full bench of high court judges, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said the stance adopted by Zuma in 2016 on the status of the report was “completely unreasonable”.
Mlambo said there was no basis for Zuma’s application to interdict the release of the report.
The court also ruled that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should select the judge to preside over the state capture commission of inquiry within 30 days.
On Tuesday, Zuma said that he only appealed the orders to the extent that "they set a particular precedent for the Office of the President of the Republic and are indeed deserving of legal certainty".
"The allegations that the state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners, the people of South Africa, is of paramount importance and are therefore deserving of finality and certainty. Accordingly, I have decided that, while the issues determined by the order require final determination by higher courts, this matter cannot wait any longer," Zuma said.
"It is of such serious public concern that any further delay will make the public doubt government’s determination to dismantle all forms of corruption, and entrench the public perception that the state has been captured by private interests for nefarious and self-enrichment purposes. The commission must seek to uncover not just the conduct of some, but of all those who may have rendered our state or parts thereof vulnerable to control by forces other than the public for which government is elected."
Zuma said that there should be no area of corruption and said that he was "mindful of the concerns raised" by Madonsela in her report, wherein she lamented the lack of resources to conduct a wider inquiry into this matter.
He said that he would be making more resources available and that it was his "sincere hope" that the commission would be able to reach the areas of concern raised by Madonsela's investigation, but form part of what she might have investigated, had she had sufficient resources to do so.
"I have considered this matter very carefully, including the unprecedented legal implications of the order directing the Chief Justice to select a single judge to head the commission of inquiry. I have expressed my reservations about the legality of this directive, which may be the subject of the appeal. I would like to emphasise that I have faith in all the judges and their ability to execute their tasks with the requisite levels of fairness, impartiality and independence," he said.
"I requested the Chief Justice to provide me with the name of the judge to head the Commission. He has selected Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Mnyamezeli Mlungisi Zondo to undertake this task. I urge everyone to cooperate with the commission of inquiry. I trust that we will all respect the process and place no impediments to prevent the Commission from doing its work."
African News Agency/ANA