As the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture officially starts next week, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) wishes to call upon all individuals and parties to support Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and a team of six commissioners together with additional investigators.

BLSA has been at the forefront of strengthening key state institutions, particularly Chapter 9 institutions. Indeed, it was the BLSA which continuously called for the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in line with the recommendations of the previous Public Protector.

In pursuance of our ongoing efforts to defend and strengthen key state institutions, BLSA would like to encourage all persons who have information related to this important probe to avail themselves and offer their evidence.

This would assist the inquiry and all South Africans understand the extent of the state capture project that started at least over the last 10 years.

It would be foolhardy to think that state capture is behind us because of a change of guard in government. Its tentacles run deep in the state apparatus.

State capture did not only make malfeasance fashionable for an elite, it robbed the poorest of the poor of vital resources and opportunities for a better life.

State capture did not only hollow out the scarce resources of state-owned companies, it undermined their mandates, reversed hard-won gains in socioeconomic development and deferred the transformation project to a distant future.

It is largely due to state capture that transformation, economic growth, job creation and investment are lagging behind much-needed but reasonable expectations.

The country is still faced with the spectre of sub-investment grading by major rating agencies due to state capture. Sadly, while few individuals (and families) were benefitting from state capture, state institutions lost critical, honest, competent individuals and technocrats. Under state capture, good public servants were stripped of any meaningful power and influence, destroying their morale. It became a shame to do an honest job.

Criminal justice should not – and cannot – wait for the Zondo Commission to complete its job. These institutions should, without delay, institute criminal proceedings and prosecute wrongdoers (and those implicated). It is now time to see people facing the music and ultimately going to jail.

This is the only way that we will engender (public and investor) confidence in the public administration. Equally important, this will show that efforts are being made to get to the bottom of State Capture, its causes, effects and the measures needed to prevent it from happening again.

BLSA hopes that the work of Zondo Commission, unlike others, will be the start of entrenching a culture of accountability and ethical leadership. It is our responsibility to ensure that South Africa remains a country of laws and not of big men.

BLSA therefore wishes Deputy Justice and his team the best of luck as they seek to unravel the cancerous, monstrous evil of State Capture.