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Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images)
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The dignity of the commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach to the process. Even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw from the commission, writes Ralph Mathekga.
marks a year since the first sitting of the Zondo commission of inquiry into
state capture. Lest we forget, the commission was established after an intense
political and legal contest regarding whether it should be established or not,
and how it should be constituted. This followed the then public protector Thuli
Madonsela's recommendations that President Jacob Zuma should establish the
commission and the Chief Justice appointing its chair.
wanted to ensure that the commission was chaired by an independent judge who would
do the job with dignity. Zuma subsequently launched a series of court
challenges against Madonsela's reports and its recommendations that he cannot
appoint the chair of the commission. As they say, the rest is history.
is important to recall the short history behind the creation of the commission.
It was not formed out of consensus; some resisted its formation fiercely. The
ANC cannot be said to have fully supported the formation of the state capture
then ANC caucus in Parliament did not have a good relationship with Madonsela;
often calling her to Parliament for a quick chastising just for a small public
humiliation. It was quite heart-warming to see the ANC placing a newspaper
advert before the elections; taking pride in the formation of the commission as
an indication of the party's commitment to the fight against corruption.
heroes of the commission are those who believed that it had to be formed. They
are the people who always believed that the level of corruption was so deep
that it threatened the sovereignty of the state, hence the demand for a wider inquiry.
people including civil society organisations, the media, and ordinary folks, have
achieved beyond what many democracies can claim to have ever reached. Where
else in the world has a country undertaken to investigate how business groups
have been influencing the exercise of political power by buying favours and
undermining the relationship between leaders and voters
if we arrived there by a crisis-riddled route; by creating a state capture
commission South Africans have asked the most fundamental question that plagues
modern democracies: the question of the influence of money on politics.
at times things appear bad and hopeless in South Africa. However, our society
is very resilient amidst its contradictions. By creating a state capture
commission, South Africans have sought to expose how money can infiltrate the
relationship between voters and elected leaders.
fully sympathise with those who say the commission should be judged in terms of
the extent to which it shows that there are consequences to bad conduct.
Indeed, it would make a big difference for the general public to see people
being hauled to jail following revelations of wrongdoing at the Zondo
commission. That is however not the only way to assess the impact of the
commission is important also in the sense that it has revealed the processes
through which political power is exercised in South Africa and the type of
considerations made by leaders. As the leaders present themselves at the
commission, voters will get a better understanding of them, and how smart they
are. For example, when a leader comes to the commission and decides not to
remember anything that happened during his time in office, voters will have
that leadership character laid bare to them.
of witnesses who came to the Zondo commission with the sole purpose to
demonstrate their level of forgetfulness, credit goes to the chair of the
commission, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for maintaining his composure for the
period of a year. He has patience bigger than Mount Everest.
when everyone realised that a witness was struggling to forget, Zondo always
guided them in a way that they would comfortably provide a clear answer, even
if it's not a truthful one. It takes a great deal of tolerance for someone in his
position not to crack and throw the cutlery around.
one instance, Zondo asked a witness: "Do you think you remember the incident,
or you do not remember it now and you might remember it later, or you are sure
it did not take place?" That's a very long walk around the witness; a walk
that Zondo has mastered with precision.
dignity of the commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach to the process.
So far, he has ensured that no one abruptly walks away from the commission;
even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw from
one-year anniversary of the Zondo commission should be a celebration of the
great Deputy Chief Justice for one year of delicate balancing work; the man
deserves a Bell's!
- Dr Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views.The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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