Chief Justice Raymond Zondo delivers an address at a TIF News event.
- Chief Justice Raymond Zondo believes ANC MPs have not learnt any lessons from the state capture era and should this play out again, they would still protect implicated parties.
- As such, Zondo suggests South Africans need to rethink the majority party manner of governance as it might not be serving citizens.
- Zondo was speaking at TIF News’s On the Record Summit on Thursday.
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo believes the ANC may not have learnt its lesson, and should state capture happen again, the party would still use its majority to protect those implicated.
“They are many questions that arise in the context of what I call the Gupta-Zuma state capture. One of them is why Parliament did not stop this,” he said.
“The evidence led before the commission was clear that Parliament had all the power to stop it but did not stop it because the majority party didn’t want to stop it.”
Zondo, who chaired the State Capture Commission of Inquiry, was giving the keynote address at TIF News’s On the Record Summit on Thursday.
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“Many times, opposition parties tabled motions for the establishment of inquiries to look into the allegations of the influence of the Guptas on the president.
“A number of parties also tabled motions of no confidence into the president as a way of trying to stop this, but of course the majority party would have nothing to do with it.”
He said should “the Guptas be back and not in jail and be free in SA and started all over again, would Parliament act different [and prevent state capture]”.
“I doubt that they [MPs] would act differently because the evidence was quite clear that members of the majority party are not expected to support a motion of no confidence in the president of the country who belonged to their party.
“Then the question arises if we are at risk of what happened again and Parliament not being able to act. These are matters that must be considered. They are very difficult matters.”
In his findings, Zondo blamed in the main ANC MPs for their unwillingness to expose allegations of malfeasance and corruption to public scrutiny.
He said the National Assembly had a constitutional duty to exercise oversight over the executive, including organs of state such as state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and had failed dismally in this regard.
“The problem here was not Parliament’s ability to ferret out the truth [questions put in the National Assembly by opposition MPs elicited admission in this regard] but the ANC stance that there was nothing wrong with this,” read one of Zondo’s reports.
On Thursday, the chief justice said, “of course, Parliament operates on the basis of the majority, and whatever decisions are taken by the majority stands”.
He, however, went on to say such governance needed to be interrogated now if it still served the needs of all South Africans or only the governing party.
Zondo succinctly summarised the crux of his state capture findings and reiterated the commission had indeed uncovered state capture.
“Many of us gathered here, and those who have read on state capture may be aware that internationally a definition of state capture includes changing laws and changing policies for benefactors to benefit from public funds.
“The view we took [as the commission] in the contest of SA was to go back to the Public Protector’s report, and it became clear to us that when you go to that report, the main focus of what the Public Protector had in mind was that there were allegations that the Gupta family was exercising undue influence on the head of state.
“Through their proximity to him [then-president Jacob Zuma], the Guptas influenced decisions in governments and SOEs that were aimed at enriching themselves and their entities from public funds unlawfully,” said Zondo.