While Corruption Watch welcomes the announcement of the establishment of a judicial commission of enquiry into state capture and the intended appointment of Deputy Chief Justice Zondo to head the commission, it urges the public to remain vigilant and take cognisance of the multiple factors and objectives underlying President Jacob Zuma’s belated decision to establish this commission.

On the one hand, the decision to establish the commission undoubtedly represents a victory for all those concerned with the overwhelming evidence that the state has been captured by wealthy private individuals acting in collusion with powerful politicians and their families, notably Zuma and his family.

On the other hand, the timing of the decision indicates that it is addressed at the ANC’s National Executive Committee and at forestalling the possibility that this body would exercise its prerogative to recall Zuma. We are generally concerned that the establishment of the commission will be used to put other critical processes on hold, in particular the process of criminal investigation and prosecution for which there is already ample evidence in the public domain.

We are also wary of Zuma’s suggestion that the commission’s terms of reference will be broadened beyond the scope of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report.  While there is good reason to conduct a broad-ranging investigation of state capture through the ages, the State of Capture investigation is specifically concerned with the capture of the state perpetrated by the Gupta family and Zuma and his son. The instruction of the Public Protector is to establish a commission of enquiry to investigate these focused issues and this must be reflected in the terms of reference. While evidence already in the public domain demonstrates that an investigation into state capture by the Gupta and Zuma families will and must undoubtedly implicate several major private sector firms, any broadening of the terms of reference beyond those mandated by the Public Protector will be viewed as a cynical attempt to divert attention from the pressing problem we confront today: namely, the role of the head of state and his wealthy cronies in using their access to state power to feather their own nests.

In short, Corruption Watch welcomes the appointment of a commission of enquiry and stands ready to assist the commission in whatever way that it can.  However, it remains vigilant in the face of the ability of a cynical president to undermine the very commission that he has been obliged to establish.

For media queries, contact

Phemelo Khaas:             phemelok@corruptionwatch.org.za              083 763 3472