Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday, welcomed President Jacob Zuma's appointment of a commission of inquiry into state capture.
"The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the eventual decision by President Jacob Zuma, after all his efforts to delay have failed, to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, as per the Public Protector’s State of Capture Report," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
"Zuma deserves no credit for this decision. His hand has been forced, as he knew he had no further avenue for delay. As the initial complainant in the State of Capture report, we will closely monitor the Commission over the next 180 days."
On Tuesday night, Zuma 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."
Maimane said that the commission's terms of reference must be framed as broadly as possible to not "inhibit the ability of the commission to uncover the full extent of State Capture in South Africa".
He said the terms of reference should include the activities of the Gupta family and their relationship with Zuma and his family; all dealings by Gupta-linked companies with the State, including all SOEs; the capture of state institutions; and every other allegation outlined in the Public Protector’s State of Capture.
"Moreover, we call on all South Africans who have any evidence of State Capture and corruption in government to bring this information to light, in order for the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the truth into the light. Parliament must be equipped to deal with all national policies that have allowed State Capture to take root, and the Commission’s findings must be tabled before Parliament on completion," Maimane said.
"We will not allow this Commission to be another whitewash that absolves all politically connected individuals from accountability, and where appropriate, prison. It must be properly staffed, fully funded and free from any and all political inference. Lastly, this announcement does not let Jacob Zuma off the hook. Less than one month ago, the North Gauteng High Court rejected President Zuma’s baseless review of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report and its recommendations and ordered him to personally pay back his legal costs...
"Corruption robs our people of opportunity, and thus the Commission’s work is critical in advancing freedom for our people. The Commission is a step towards ridding the country of corruption, and must do its work without delay."
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 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."
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 a 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