Guest Column

Turn yourself in to the Zondo commission and come clean, Mr President

2018-11-15 05:00

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Dear President Ramaphosa,

Two months ago, when answering questions in the NCOP, you offered to appear before the Zondo commission of inquiry to give account of what you knew about state capture. In your own words, "It is important that the people of South Africa get to know exactly what was happening in the state. To the extent that any of us has a story to tell – has something to put forward to the Zondo commission – we should never hide. We should go forward."

I agree, and I note your commitment – this is absolutely necessary. But I'm afraid your offer does not go far enough. You can't sit back and wait for the commission to come to you, because that may never happen. It is up to you to volunteer to give your evidence before the commission without being summoned.

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The people of South Africa need to know that this commission is not a sham. They need to know that there is a genuine concern for the truth and a genuine commitment to lay bare the entire state capture project and all its players. They need to know whether this is, in fact, the true purpose of the commission, or whether it is simply being used as an opportunity to make a clean cut between the so-called good and bad ANC, allowing the "good" to walk away cleansed and absolved.

The only way we will know this is if everyone with knowledge of how our state ended up in the hands of thieves comes forward and tells the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This includes, above all, you, Mr President. It is your party, the ANC, that is on trial here. It is your party, and not merely a faction, that looted the state. And it is therefore incumbent upon you, as the leader, to account for the actions of the ANC.

Contrary to the message that you have been repeating in the media of late, the perilous state of our nation is not because of Jacob Zuma or the Gupta family. They didn't capture the state. The ANC did so itself through its policy of cadre deployment. Jacob Zuma and the Guptas merely recognised and seized the opportunity to profit from this.

Twenty-one years ago your party announced, without shame, its intention to capture the state by deploying loyal ANC cadres to key non-political positions spanning everything from the military and intelligence to the judiciary and state-owned companies. If we're looking for the genesis of state capture, this is undeniably it – in black and white policy.

Which brings me to your role. From 2012 until the end of last year you were not only the deputy president of the ANC and, two years later, of South Africa, you were also the chair of your party's national deployment committee. You were, quite literally, the man in charge of all cadre deployment for the five years from 2012 to 2017.

Every person posted to every parastatal, every Chapter Nine institution, every intelligence, investigative and prosecution structure during this period was dispatched there, directly or indirectly, by you.

In 2012, as you embarked on this chapter, you proudly stated your intentions to perform your loyal party duty, describing the years ahead as the "Decade of the Cadre". During the period that followed, the list of ANC deployees to SOEs and Chapter Nine institutions – the very core of the state capture project – reads like a who's who of the state looters and those who refused to do their jobs by investigating and prosecuting them. Brian Molefe, Shaun Abrahams, Berning Ntlemeza, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Matshela Koko, Ben Ngubane… the list goes on and on. All serving with your approval and your blessing.

Let us also not forget your role in the deployment of the very worst cadre of them all: Jacob Zuma. Ten years ago, when others in your party warned against the grave consequences of replacing Thabo Mbeki with a man like Zuma, you and the likes of Blade Nzimande and Tokyo Sexwale fought for this palace coup, and you won. You gave us the Zuma years, and now you blame the Zuma years for the mess we're in. You owe the country a better explanation than that. You owe us an honest answer.

Earlier this year, during an address to the South African National Editors' Forum, you said you only became aware of state capture when the Gupta emails were leaked in May of 2017. Prior to that you claim you believed, despite mounting reports, that it was all just a "loose wheel nut". This is not an honest answer either. It is inconceivable for you to have been the Deputy President, the Leader of Government Business and the head of ANC cadre deployment during the entire time our country was being looted by the very people you deployed there, and you knew nothing about it.

No one believes this, and I suspect you know it, Mr President. If the Zondo Commission is to have any value whatsoever, you are going to have to take the country into your confidence and make a full, honest disclosure about exactly what you knew of the capture of our state, when you knew it and what, if anything, you did once you became aware of it.

This disclosure has to include details of all cadres deployed, during your tenure as Chair of the ANC's National Deployment Committee, to the boards of State Owned Enterprises, Intelligence, the Hawks, the NPA and all Chapter Nine institutions, including the SABC and the Office of the Public Protector. It also has to include an explanation for the continued presence of individuals with known Gupta ties in your Cabinet.

Such a full disclosure will be extremely uncomfortable, I know. It could very well be damaging to both the ANC and your Presidency. But anything less will make a mockery of this state capture commission and all your talk of a new chapter for South Africa.

Please, Mr President, do the right thing by your country. Volunteer your testimony before the commission without being summoned. Turn yourself in and come clean.

Mmusi Maimane

Leader: Democratic Alliance

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