The ANC has urged members who have evidence related to state capture to be “bold and courageous” and to make submissions to the commission of inquiry even if they implicate their comrades.
Ahead of the beginning of the inquiry on Monday, head of the party’s presidency Zizi Kodwa said that the commission was crucial for the party to rebuild a broken relationship of trust between it and the public.
“Those who have made allegations loudly in public should be bold and courageous and use this important platform to come forward with evidence for the sake of the country. We need to get to the bottom of the allegations,” Kodwa said.
“It includes ANC members and ANC leaders, regardless who is involved,” he said.
Kodwa added that the commission was important politically because there were allegations that executive decisions were not taken by a democratically-elected government but by “certain people, undermining the authority and the faith people have in a democratic state”.
“Corruption is thieving. It diverts money meant for service delivery. The commission must do its work to restore people’s confidence in the state, [and] restore credibility of institutions, including government companies used for looting,” he said.
The inquiry, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, got underway on Monday in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Zondo is investigating allegations of undue influence by the politically connected Gupta family on former President Jacob Zuma and at state-owned enterprises.
At least one person on the witness list has directly implicated Zuma.
Former Government Communication and Information System chief executive officer Themba Maseko said that Zuma had personally called him asking him to help out the Guptas who wanted government advertising to be channelled to their newspaper The New Age.
Since the allegations came to the fore, some ANC members have spoken publicly on the relationship between the Guptas and some key ANC figures. ANC head of elections, Fikile Mbalula first raised the issue of Gupta influence at a national executive committee (NEC) meeting.
According to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, Mbalula broke down, asking why business people had called him about Cabinet appointments.
It was reported at the time the Guptas told Mbalula that he would get a ministerial appointment.
Recently, former NEC member Trevor Manuel wrote an open letter to Mbalula asking if he remembered the tears he shed over the Guptas.
Last year, Ekurhuleni ANC chairperson Mzwandile Masina asked the family to give the “ANC space to conduct the revolution”.
Youth League president Collen Maine said he was not taken to the Guptas by Zuma but it was by former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
The three are not on the shortlist of witnesses the commission has provided so far.
A source close to the commission raised concern over the inquiry being used to settle factional political scores within the party.
“You have numerous faction going off at each other. All I see is this thing being used by politicians to attack one another,” the official said.
PoliticsAnalyst Mpumi Mkhabela said that while it would be difficult for politics to play out at the commission, they should not overwhelm the inquiry.
“It is difficult to have a commission that by its very nature has political implications, to exclude political grandstanding, that’s not avoidable,” he said. “However, we have to bear in mind that the commission is run by professionals — the chairperson of the commission is the deputy chief justice of the country, he has his own integrity to protect.
“He has not yet build much of his reputation, only having been recently appointed in that court so the only major thing he would have to do before going back to that court is this one of the commission of inquiry… so through that his credibility really hinges on the success of this commission.”
Mkhabela said that the integrity of the commission was legally protected as it has powers of the public protector — unlike the Marikana and the Fees Must Fall commissions, which were essentially seen as an advisory process for the president.
“In this case state capture inquiry is framed by the public protector as she said it must have powers that no less than the public protector. You can’t easily make it useless,” he said.
In March, just weeks after replacing Zuma as the country’s president, Ramaphosa changed the inquiry’s regulations allowing for evidence produced to be used in a criminal case.
Under the regulations initially signed off by Zuma, no evidence would have been admissible in any criminal proceedings. — News24