Aimless Zuma testimony an example of Zondo commission’s poor use of time, Casac tells court, wants deadline set

2020-02-03 10:42
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, (Photo: Netwerk24)

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, (Photo: Netwerk24)

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The judicial commission of inquiry into allegation of state capture, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, must firm up its plans and give clarity on where it stands, because it's eating up millions of rands and the South African taxpayer isn’t getting much in return for it.

That is the contention of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) in papers filed at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria last week in response to Zondo’s application for a 10-month extension of his commission’s lifespan.

Zondo has told the court that the commission’s terms of reference are too wide and that if he was to follow it to the letter it could take up to six years to complete. Zondo wants the court to limit the scope and grant him an extension until the end of the year. The commission is supposed to cease to exist at the end of February.

Casac does not oppose Zondo’s application for an extension but wants the court to order the commission to provide it with a clear roadmap on how it plans to conclude its work.

Widespread uncertainty

Executive director Lawson Naidoo contends that the commission is too vague in what it wants to achieve, that it is unclear where its headed or how it will follow up on testimony that has been delivered, that it hasn’t adequately shared information with law enforcement authorities, that it's expensive, hasn’t issued interim reports, and that it hasn’t used its available time effectively.

"An example of this is allowing witnesses to testify for days on end without proper guidance on which issues, in particular, they have been called to address. One such incident occurred during the inconclusive testimony of former president Jacob Zuma. The testimony lasted for several days but did not grapple with issues that advanced the work of the commission for most of the time," Naidoo says in court papers.

Although Zondo, in his affidavit, sets out what has been achieved thus far and explains the option open to the commission going forward, widespread uncertainty about its plans abound and creates "doubts, concerns and qualms" about where the commission is headed.

Casac believes the cost of the commission, the resultant delay in meting out justice by authorities and the lack of interim reports which could lead to prosecutions should compel the 10-month extension to be the last and that the commission should conclude its work after that.

READ MORE: One last extension and no more - Casac urges Zondo to give court programme for commission

The commission has already cost more than R356m, which means limited resources are diverted away from institutions and bodies involved in actual crime fighting and corruption busting, Casac says.

Casac argues that there seems to be a delay in law enforcement processes while the commission is sitting, possibly because authorities don’t want to duplicate costly investigative work. "It further appears that the fruits of the commission’s investigations are not yet shared as yet with other agencies," Naidoo says.

The commission has also failed to produce interim reports, which could be a catalyst for investigations, charges and prosecutions.

"The commission therefore cannot be allowed to fall into the rut of certain other commissions that expended considerable resources and to years to complete their work that were permitted to function with no foreseeable end date in sight," Naidoo argues.

Read more on:    casac  |  raymond zondo  |  pretoria  |  state capture  |  courts

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