‘The NEC [national executive committee] affirmed the fight against crime and corruption … and reaffirmed its support, as per its conference and NEC resolutions for the commission of inquiry into state capture, chaired by Judge [Raymond] Zondo, [and] urges all its members and leaders to cooperate with the commission in the national interest, and to allow the commission to complete its work fairly and present its findings without fear or favour,” read a statement by the ANC’s national executive committee in February.
This was the umpteenth recommitment the governing party gave to assure the public that it had not wavered from its commitment. It followed defiance of the Zondo commission by former president Jacob Zuma, despite appeals, threats, exhortations and even court rulings.
The ANC would have us believe that Zuma is the rotten apple acting in violation of its principles and decisions, but recent developments suggest that the failure to embrace the spirit and letter of the commission runs deeper within the ANC’s ranks.
This week, the inspector-general for intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, revealed that, acting in the spirit of transparency, he shared the input he was going to make to the commission with President Cyril Ramaphosa and the security cluster ministers. He gave them two weeks for feedback.
But, instead of feedback, he got a nasty surprise as three ministers tried to stop him from testifying and motivated for him to be suspended. The three – Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo – were overruled by Ramaphosa, who allowed Dintwe to appear at the commission.
The question is, why are these ministers trying to frustrate the work of the commission and what are they trying to hide? The chaos in their badly run portfolios is already out there for all to see. Their archaic understanding of “national security” has become a convenient cover for an attitude of resistance to accountability and transparency.
We commend Ramaphosa for calling their bluff and underlining his commitment to running a transparent government. We hope his appearance before the commission next week will set an example for the rest of his executive, some of whom are still grappling with understanding openness, democracy and accountability.