Mabuza on state capture: 'All of us, one day, are going to explain ourselves'

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  • Deputy President David Mabuza didn't say whether he agrees with President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Zondo Commission's recommendations aren't binding on government.
  • Mabuza answered questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.
  • He said the government was committed to the "processing" of the Zondo Commission's report and to be held accountable by Parliament.

Deputy President David Mabuza sidestepped a question on whether he agreed with President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Zondo Commission's findings were not binding on government.

Mabuza, answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, said that as leader of government business, he had previously "affirmed the centrality of this institution" to hold the executive accountable.

He said Cabinet members were individually and collectively accountable to the National Assembly, and it was their constitutional duty to assist the House to process the Zondo Commission's report.

He said, as deputy president, he didn't have the power to discipline members of the executive implicated in the report, but Ramaphosa did.

READ | Ramaphosa contradicts Zondo Commission's finding that cadre deployment is 'unlawful, unconstitutional'

"The National Assembly can be assured of the full commitment of the executive under the leadership of the President in the processing of the findings of the State Capture Commission," Mabuza said. 

Among the Zondo Commission's scathing findings against the ANC was that its policy of cadre deployment contributed to state capture and that it was unconstitutional and unlawful.

Weeks before the final report was published, the DA approached the High Court to ask that the policy be declared unconstitutional and unlawful.

In his responding affidavit, in his capacity as the president of the country rather than the ANC, Ramaphosa argued that the recommendations weren't binding, but were there to "assist [him], as president of the country, with the issues at the heart of this investigation".

Deputy President David Mabuza.
Supplied GCIS

He did, however, state that he took the commission seriously.

Asking her follow-up question to Mabuza, DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said there now seemed to be uncertainty about the status of the commission's report and its findings.

"The president asserts that none of the findings of this commission is, in fact, binding on government, a sentiment which seems to have extended to parliament, judging by the presiding officers' reluctance to act speedily against those who have been implicated in the report," she said.

She said this was concerning because the commission's work spanned years and cost more than R1 billion.

"Do you agree with the president that the commission's findings are not binding and could simply be ignored?" Gwarube asked. 

READ | ANC's deference to Ramaphosa on Phala Phala shows Zondo's fears warranted

Mabuza responded that Ramaphosa would come to the House and present a report on "how he is going to handle the recommendations of the commission".

"It is in that space and time that the president will explain himself, to say: 'To this recommendation, I don't think I am obliged to respond', and give reasons," said Mabuza.

"Of course, there are certain recommendations that are about the National Assembly, yourself. You must also explain yourself, how you want to deal with this, these recommendations," he said, smiling.

"All of us, one day, are going to explain ourselves. And that time will come. It is not only for the president to explain himself, we must also explain ourselves, how best we are going to handle this recommendation."

Responding to a question from ANC MP Mina Lesoma, Mabuza said the money spent on the Zondo Commission was "money well spent".

He said there were efforts under way to recover the looted money, and every cent recovered should be celebrated. It isn't the money that is important, he said, but the principle that you can't steal from the state – which is very important to establish in a democracy.

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