The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the release of the Terms of Reference for the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
The party says it is pleased the terms of reference were based on the recommendations by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
It says it is also satisfied that the commission will specifically look into President Jacob Zuma’s alleged role in the state capture and violations of the constitution.
The party has further urged Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to release the interim reports to enable the relevant institutions of the criminal justice system to deal with matters as soon as prima facie evidence of criminal activity has been established.
The release of the terms of reference will pave the way for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to begin the proceedings of the commission, expected to last for six months.
On 9 January, President Zuma announced that Justice Zondo would head up the commission to probe allegations that the Gupta family abused their friendship with the President to influence the appointment of cabinet ministers and to secure lucrative state contracts.
According to the terms of reference published in the Government Gazette, the commission must probe whether there were irregularities, undue enrichment and corruption in the awarding of contracts, mining licenses as well as government advertising in the Gupta-owned New Age newspapers.
It must also investigate the illegal awarding of contracts, tenders to companies and business entities by state-owned enterprises.
Minerals Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s attempt to gag major financial banks from closing the Gupta companies banking facilities will also be subjected to the commission’s inquiry.
The commission will be tasked to also investigate the veracity of allegations that former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former African National Congress Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor were offered cabinet positions by the Gupta family. Mentor, who is one of President Jacob Zuma’s fiercest critics, has welcomed the terms of reference.
“So far we are getting hope with the crooks that have been forced out of Eskom, with the processes of Parliament. There is light at the end of the tunnel. The commission is a good step to rebuild our economy that has been brought to the ground by corruption.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse Wayne Duvenage says whilst they welcome the publishing of the commission’s terms of references, he hopes that the inquiry will not hamper ongoing fraud and corruption investigations at several state owned enterprises.
“Yes, it’s good news that there is a commission. We need a credible commission that is given enough time. It shouldn’t scupper the need to continue with prosecutions of fraud and corruption linked to the state capture.”
Justice Minister Michael Masutha says the inquiry’s terms of references could be subjected to amendments and exemptions from time to time.
“The terms of references can be amended and that is stated in the terms of references. They are never cast in stone. After they have been published the judge can then put together his team.”
On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, was emphatic in expressing his commitment to carry out this onerous task without fear, favour or prejudice.
“I will investigate anybody. It doesn’t matter who they are. This commission will do its work properly. We owe it to the people of South Africa. I would not take this job if I had any fear of investigating anybody. This commission will do its job properly.”
All organs of state will be obliged to fully cooperate with Justice Zondo’s inquiry. Through this proclamation, the commission will conduct investigations and gather evidence, including the power to conduct search of premises and the securing and subpoena of witnesses.
The commission will also have the right to refer any matter for prosecution or investigation by law enforcement agency.
First order of business will now be the drafting of regulations to enable the commission to do its work meaningfully as well as dealing with issues of staffing and resources. – By Mbali Sibanyoni & Tshepo Ikaneng
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