It is a shame that inequality has become sharper during our constitutional democracy than during apartheid.
High level clouds. Mild.
The chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry in State Capture Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo during a media briefing on May 24, 2018. Picture: Gallo
Multimedia · User Galleries · News in Pictures
Send us your pictures · Send us your stories
We are in
the season of commissions of inquiry with both the State Capture Inquiry and
the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS now well under way.
Commission is probably the easier undertaking in that it is required to focus
on one state agency, SARS. Its work to date represents a textbook case of
rendering into the public domain that which was known in part thanks to the
media and more particularly the Jacques Pauw book, The President's Keepers.
the evidence before the Nugent Commission, South Africans are rapidly learning
about the widespread destruction of a key institution over the past few years
where, as with all manner of corrupt practices, the cost is borne by those who
can least afford it.
appears that VAT had to be increased by 1% because of a consistent pattern of
poor collection of taxes by the institution mandated to do the job. There can
be little doubt that the report which will be produced by Judge Robert Nugent will
bring much needed clarity as to how this sad decline of SARS was allowed to happen.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is tasked with a far wider and more complex
inquiry, the early portents do not appear to be as positive. To date, some of
the breathlessly poor reporting on the proceedings notwithstanding, most of the
information disclosed has either been published or has for some time been
available for analysis in the public domain. That is not the fault of the commission
but it does serve to emphasise the limited role that a commission can play in
so widespread an assault on a constitutional democracy.
so much of the information that has and will emerge has been published before,
the focus should rather be on a sustained level of criminal prosecution. In the
same manner as Robert Mueller has gone about his investigation in the USA, a
skilled and determined National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) could round on a
host of characters who no doubt contributed to the theft of billions of public
funds, all of which should have been used to change the lives of millions of
disadvantaged South Africans and contributed to the meaningful transformation
of the country.
rogues are middle men and, if threatened with years of imprisonment, they could
in exchange for immunity from prosecution lead the NPA to the key perpetrators
and their being brought to criminal book.
the best will and the undoubted forensic skill of the deputy chief justice, a
commission can only make recommendations with a view to criminal prosecution.
And consider how long a commission tasked with so complex a set of terms of
reference will take to formulate its recommendations.
Part of its
problem will be the army of highly paid advocates briefed, inter alia by Mr Jacob
Zuma, Ms Lynne Brown, the Guptas and Mr Fana Hlongwane, who may seek to cross
examine witnesses. In itself that should be allowed because failure of their
clients to testify will not only render nugatory an attempt to put a different
version before the commission, but an adverse inference can be drawn if they
fail to testify. I suspect we can confidently state that no Gupta will be
travelling to testify!
But even within
these strictures, the legal teams representing those who are the focus of
evidence can employ the tried and tested Stalingrad tactics to slow the inquiry
and unlike Judge Nugent who only had to deal with Mr Tom Moyane and his legal
team, Justice Zondo is confronted with a good percentage of the Bar.
the solution to the pathology of state capture is for the president to appoint
a top notch national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) and to allow him or
her to get on with the job of prosecution without fear or favour. In the
interim the Zondo Commission will continue to serve an important political
purpose of continuing to hold a spotlight on those dark places where the
destruction of constitutional democracy was conceived and the implementation of
the theft of billions of taxpayers' money took place.
these cautions about the limitation of commissions of inquiry tasked with such
widely couched terms of reference should come as a surprise. South African
history is littered with commissions, the major achievement of which was to
decommission widespread public outrage. Take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC) as an example. The single criminal trial of Eugene de Kock provided
greater information of the barbarity of apartheid than did years of the TRC.
from government agencies and civil society, Justice Zondo's commission will
serve as an important public focus on the disgrace of the past decade. But it
is only if the NPA is properly capacitated that the criminal justice system
will work to cleanse the country of the rapacious cliques that have plundered it.
That President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking so long to make the key appointment is of some concern. His,
and hence the government's, commitment to bringing closure to the past decade will
be reflected in who is appointed.
- Serjeant at the Bar is a senior legal practitioner with a special interest in constitutional law.
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.
Much lower levels countrywide!
Isn't it time to dump this outdated term for good?
Here's how many luxury SUVs were sold during the month of November.
Watch our interview here!
5 tips to care of your piercings
The good, bad, and, the ugly of SA's new vehicle sales in November.
How to recover in time for Christmas spending
Childhood squints can be corrected says medical professional.
Western CapePersona Staff
Cape Town Northern SuburbsMonotecR6 000.00 - R15 000.00 Per Month
Cape TownHire ResolveR1 300 000.00 - R1 600 000.00 Per Year
R 4 490 000
R 5 525 000
R 5 300 000
We subscribe to the Press Code.
You choose what you want
News24 on Android
Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.
Terms and Conditions
24.com Terms and Conditions - Updated April 2012
Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.
This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.