Heads of SOEs 'absolutely instrumental' in the capture of the state, says Corruption Watch

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Judicial commission of inquiry into state capture chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Judicial commission of inquiry into state capture chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
PHOTO: Thulani Mbele
  • On Thursday, the Zondo commission continued to hear parliamentary oversight evidence.  
  • Casac's Lawson Naidoo told the commission that it supports transparency and openness in appointment processes.  
  • Corruption Watch's David Lewis says heads of state-owned enterprises were "absolutely instrumental" in the capture of the state.

Corruption Watch's David Lewis has told the Zondo commission that the heads of state-owned enterprises were "absolutely instrumental" in the capture of the state.

On Thursday, the commission shifted its focus back to parliamentary oversight related evidence after former president Jacob Zuma failed to appear before it this week. 

Testifying, Lewis said the commission should pay attention to how certain appointments were made in order to facilitate wrongdoing.

"The most important role that the [former] president played in securing state capture lay in his powers of appointments and his influence over other appointments," he said.

He also told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, that the organisation was "encouraged" by the manner in which President Cyril Ramaphosa chose to make the appointments of the heads of the National Prosecuting Authority and South African Revenue Services.

"The process that he followed did provide him with the kind of necessary intelligence of information and consideration to actually make a rational appointment," he said.

He also said he was "pleased" that the Speaker of the National Assembly had set up a committee of experts, to determine whether grounds for the removal of the current Public Protector had been met.

The committee would then advise the parliamentary committee on its findings, he said. 

READ | 'Parliament's oversight function is not properly funded' - Cedric Frolick tells Zondo Commission

Meanwhile, Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution's (Casac) Lawson Naidoo told the commission that the organisation supported the proposals that were made by Corruption Watch and Institute for Security Studies in that there should be greater transparency and openness in appointment processes at key institutions.

He said one of the lessons learnt from the evidence that has been presented before Zondo was how key institutions, which were tasked to fight corruption "were weakened" during the state capture years, by individuals appointed to head those institutions, particularly in the law enforcement sector.

"We propose that a more open and competitive and transparent process be conducted... in full view of the public so that if it is a properly open and transparent process, the public would have a greater confidence in those individuals who are appointed to lead these institutions and know exactly what their capabilities, skills and expertise are," he said.

ALSO READ | Clipping wings of corruption at SAA: Zondo commission digs in over 'invasive' security vetting

Although the power to appoint rests with the president, in 2018, Ramaphosa established a panel to advise him on who to appoint as the new National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP). The interviews were broadcast live for the first time.

Naidoo told Zondo that that process "enhanced the credibility of the appointment and the institution" that advocate Shamila Batohi now leads.

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