The Zondo Commission is fast entrenching itself as a televised freak show, just as the Pistorius trial was and just as the other commissions of inquiry - to a lesser extent - will be, too, says the writer. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
This has been a week of commissions: Eskom, the Public Investment Corporation, but neither of them really holds a candle to the Zondo Commission into State Capture, which has almost become pornographic in its detailing of corruption.

Names are dropped right and left, eye-watering amounts of money are recounted; the testimonies are all spiced with the most banal details from the make of handbags that were stuffed, the brands of liquor or even the secret corporate logo on the party birthday cake, which only serve to authenticate rather than detract.

Angelo Agrizzi, the erstwhile chief operations officer of the billion-rand facilities company once known as Bosasa, has gifted us the opportunity to recalibrate the concept of state capture. It was easy for some to demonise a single Indian family and a single Zulu family, and a handful of hangers-on at the Saxonwold Shebeen, but the truth of the matter is that the rot spread far further.

As @Errol pithily mused on Twitter this week: “The Guptas thought they owned Zuma, they didn’t know that they were actually shareholders only. Zuma had many owners, he should have been listed on the JSE.”

The other truth is that much of this is not new. There have been stories about Bosasa and its evil influence for years - thanks to the same media that tracked the malign influence of the Guptas and all the other smallanyana skeletons Bathabile Dlamini famously alluded to.

As a society, we didn’t pay much heed to it at the time. Now though, like mourners at the gravesite of a person who was never really a friend, we’re gnashing our teeth and rending our clothes with the best of them.

The Zondo Commission is fast entrenching itself as a televised freak show, just as the Pistorius trial was and just as the other commissions of inquiry - to a lesser extent - will be, too.

But what then? We complain and we look gloomily to the National Prosecuting Authority - which was savagely emasculated in the Zuma era and documented, too - to take up the cudgels for us, but the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow; ask uBaba ka Duduzane, he’s been wanting his day in court, and simultaneously doing his damnedest to avoid it, for more than 10 years.

We moan about how the country’s going to hell - but we forget two key things: first, that we are actually having these commissions of inquiry, in public, not hamstrung by lawfare, muzzled by those with deep pockets and plenty to hide or intimidated into silence by public protests or even overt acts of terror.

The second of course is every South African’s opportunity to express their opinion in May - a right denied millions for centuries until that watershed moment in April 1994. You can either believe in the New Dawn and give it another chance or try for another one altogether, that’s your choice - but if you choose to be disgusted into apathy and not vote at all, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

We get the government we deserve.

* Ritchie is a media consultant. He is a former journalist and newspaper editor.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Saturday Star