State capture inquiry a 'stage play', foreigners without skills must go - new IFP president

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IFP President Velenkosi Hlabisa. (Chanté Schatz, News24)
IFP President Velenkosi Hlabisa. (Chanté Schatz, News24)
Chanté Schatz, News24

The state capture commission of inquiry is nothing more than a "stage play" which might not benefit South Africa once completed, according to new IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa.

Hlabisa was speaking to News24 in an interview in which he also discussed the state of his organisation, his rise to the presidency of the country's fourth largest party and several issues preoccupying South Africans' minds.

"The state capture [commission] is not sending a good message to the public of South Africa. So many implicated and there is no action to follow those people," Hlabisa said, calling for action from crime fighting institutions against some of those who have been implicated in evidence before the commission.

His views are not unique, criticism South Africans have levelled against the National Prosecuting Authority include a failure to act against politicians and those implicated in looting from the state.

The commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, kicked off last year following the remedial actions former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela cited.

She had been investigating claims that the controversial Gupta family had undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma and that he used this to control his executive and state-owned enterprises to loot from state coffers.

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"So many implicated, the security agencies should be starting to follow those people. People who embezzle funds from our country. The forfeiture unit should be starting to collect. By the time they stand up, there will be nothing to collect and it would be a waste," Hlabisa said.

The IFP leader said many people had already lost in the commission.

"We're not even sure how long it is going to run, at what cost and [whether it] would be [a] benefit for the country in the end. I doubt there will be any benefit," Hlabisa said.

New season, growing footprint for IFP

Hlabisa, who was elected president of the party last month, praised the IFP for a smooth conference.

Acknowledging that the party's path to the conference included a fair share of struggles, he said they had learnt from the impact of divisions in other parties.

The IFP had battled with a succession plan for years, which eventually saw its long-time leader and founder, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, stepping down, and receiving president emeritus status.

"The new season you will see a complete new page. In the 2019 election results, the IFP received votes in all nine provinces, a clear indicator that at grassroots level, people believe in the IFP," he said.

On the forefront of the fight against violence

Hlabisa also shared his views on the recent spate of violence against African migrants and rising incidents of femicide.

"We have resolved to be in the leading front. Men must be champions of protecting women and children," he said.

Hlabisa also said the traditional act of ukuthwala, in which a young woman or girl is abducted with the aim of convincing her family to agree to marriage, was "not right. A person must go into a relationship having agreed to go into a relationship, not forced".

Continuing to denounce violence in the country, Hlabisa said the government needed to assist foreigners who have special skills to get proper documentation and remain in the country. Without these, they shouldn't be allowed to remain in South Africa, he argued.

"People without special skills who came here to look for jobs, the government must assist them to return to their respective places. We don't have to beat them," he said.

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