On June 22, it was exactly one year since Chief Justice Raymond Zondo released his final report on the Zondo Commission of Inquiry’s findings and recommendations regarding state capture.
“In the year since the release of the report, an exercise that cost the South African taxpayer more than R1 billion, the process of implementing a series of recommendations and structural changes to South Africa’s state institutions and oversight bodies has came to a standstill.”
According to John Steenhuisen, federal leader of the DA, this is the reason why the party not only foresees the appearance of “state creation 2.0”, but also why the DA launched its so-called Scorpions 2.0 project as a countermeasure.
Under this banner, the DA outlined several steps last week “to ensure that the corrupt are held accountable and that the Zondo commission does not become a R1 billion public relations exercise”.
Success already achieved
Paul Holden, anti-corruption activist and author of the book Zondo at your Fingertipshowever, believes that South Africans have already received value for money from the Zondo Commission.
“Before the commission’s findings, South African citizens lived in a political unreality in which we looked at a swimming pool at Jacob Zuma’s house, were told by the government that it was to put out possible fires while we knew it was just a swimming pool .
“Corruption and irregularities have played out before our eyes for so long with the government simply denying it,” explains Holden.
According to Holden, the Zondo Commission has already called powerful politicians to account in a globally unparalleled manner by forcing them to answer questions about irregularities that are “in political terms of inestimable value”.
“Justice has already been done in a sense,” says Holden.
When it comes to rands and cents, the country also won: “The amount of money that has since been collected by the government due to the commission’s activities already exceeds the cost of the commission itself. This means taxpayers definitely got good value for money.”
Bundles full of findings
The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture between 2018 and 2021 held more than 400 days of hearings, called more than 300 witnesses, issued 3,171 subpoenas, recorded more than 75,000 pages of transcripts, more than 1.7 million pages of documentaries seen evidence and outlined his findings in a 19-volume, 4,750-page report.
RNews reported last year that the commission made more than 350 recommendations, including:
- 202 for criminal or other investigations,
- 27 recommendations for asset recovery,
- 15 referrals to other government bodies for disciplinary offences, tax offences, criminality of directors and other misconduct,
- 11 referrals to professional and regulatory bodies for further investigation of individuals for alleged breach of professional codes,
- 5 recommendations for proposed constitutional changes,
- 26 recommendations for proposed legislative amendments, and
- 64 recommendations that required operational or regulatory changes.
Holden believes it is essential for ordinary people to understand the content of the Zondo reports because they “not only tell us something about our history, but also contain predictions of our future in South Africa”. This was also the motivation behind writing his book.
Dates from came
However, according to the DA, none of the 98 ANC members named in the Zondo report have yet been reprimanded by the party or handed over to law enforcement for investigation.
“Of the 16 recommendations that the Zondo report made to strengthen and establish the parliament’s model of accountability over the executive authority, the majority of the substantive and immediately applicable recommendations have already been voted on by the ANC in the national assembly. “
In the Zondo report, 16 recommendations are made to parliament to strengthen its oversight role, some to the national assembly and national council of provinces and other legislative changes.
“None of the amendments to the law were deemed desirable by the rules committee and key changes to the rules were agreed,” says Steenhuisen.
It is this apparent impunity with which the Zondo report was answered that, according to the DA, is of great concern.
System has no teeth
“The national director of public prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, and officials from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said earlier this year that the institution does not have the powers or legal skills to adequately investigate state capture,” explained Steenhuisen.
According to Holden, one of the aims of the Zuma presidency was precisely to destroy the NPA’s ability to prosecute.
“The NPA therefore no longer has the institutional knowledge to handle a corruption case with confidence”, which is the reason why “we (…) have so far struggled to convert the findings of the commission into criminal prosecution”.
There is currently also no formal anti-corruption body dedicated to this type of work.
Chief Justice Zondo himself chastised parliament last month for the red tape in implementing the commission’s recommendations on statehood. He further warned that the parliament will not be able to prevent so-called state capture 2.0 if it happens again, as very little has been done to strengthen the institution’s anti-corruption mechanisms.
In addition to the absence of actual prosecution, it further appears that several ANC members named by the Zondo report were “rewarded” with prestigious positions.
Steenhuisen highlights a few examples.
“The Zondo Commission has found enough evidence that the former Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, can be investigated and prosecuted for corruption for receiving bribes from Bosasa. She now serves as the ANC’s first deputy secretary-general.
“It was found that the former Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, used R3 million from the National Lottery grant to buy a luxury property in Johannesburg. He currently serves as the ANC’s secretary-general.
“The former treasurer-general of the ANC, Paul Mashatile, lives a life of luxury financed by the accused of state capture and corruption, Edwin Sodi. He currently serves as deputy president of the ANC and the Republic, with his eyes on the presidency itself.”
Steenhuisen believes that the ANC has done nothing from the top to act against those who brought about “one of the darkest periods in post-apartheid South African history”.
This impunity with which lawlessness is greeted, according to Steenhuisen, does not speak of a so-called New Dawn, but rather of the arrival of statehood 2.0.
The national anti-corruption advisory board that pres. Cyril Ramaphosa launched in August last year, was initially tasked with providing an overview of the establishment of an independent, statutory anti-corruption body that reports to parliament – something that still has not seen the light of day.
That is why the DA – in an attempt to prevent state capture – is going to table a constitutional amendment for the establishment of the Scorpions 2.0: a chapter-9 anti-corruption body to function independently of the executive authority and without the threat of dissolution by the parliament.
Holden is more optimistic about South Africa post-Zondo commission.
“The Zondo Commission was not only a lament about corruption, but also made tangible recommendations about the way forward. There are several very realistic recommendations in the report that can serve as a master plan for how to make things better in the country.
“The recommendations sifted through the debris of statehood and said ‘there is something about this that we can rebuild’,” concludes Holden.