Experts Say Its A Whitewash

As South Africans look forward to the establishment of the proposed judicial inquiry into the controversial state capture, political experts and critics say that the inquiry could be treated like the Arms Deal.

President Jacob Zuma had in May while delivering the political report to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) called for a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture established without delay

The ANC supported Zuma’s proposal for the urgent commission of inquiries but insisted that the President would appoint a judge to preside over it.

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The former public protector Thuli Madonsela had earlier recommended in the State of Capture report that the judicial commission of inquiry should be presided over by a judge selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Madonsela also added that Mogoeng should provide Zuma with only one name.

Looking at the scenario, legal expert James Grant said that despite the fact that Zuma’s decision over the issue is in line with the state constitution, a clear bias in structuring the terms of the judicial inquiry inquiry may result in the findings being rushed.

With Zuma’s alleged role in the appointment of a presiding judge over an important judicial commission of enquiry in the controversial arms deal, expert fear that this approach could be used in the inquiry into State capture.

“Zuma is entitled to appoint a judge of his choice and negotiate the terms of the inquiry. I don’t see another way around it. This shows how desperately we need to amend our constitution. Zuma has managed to delay his 783 criminal charges for almost 10 years, he dodged the Arms Deal debacle and is seemingly using the same tactic now,” Grant said.

According to the political commentators, the appointment of the presiding judge in the arms deal was a whitewash that acquitted government of any wrongdoing. It was mocked widely for the incorrect handling of witnesses and the exclusion of important documentation.

The arms deal implicated Zuma as it was alleged that he receiving bribes in the range of R500,000 a year bribe from French arms company, Thales in exchange for political protection in the arms deal probe as well as in the hope of securing future business.

Like it was during the investigation into the arms deal, ANC secretary_general Gwede Mantashe said at a media briefing on Monday that the investigation into the State capture saga must expand on Madonsela’s report in attempts to uncover the general influence of businesses on the State.

Mantashe also proposed that the judicial inquiry should track all the way back to 1994.

“The NEC expressed its desire to see all processes of reviewing the Public Protector’s State of Capture report accelerated so that they are not an obstacle to the speedy establishment of the Judicial Commission into State Capture,” he said while adding that the agreement f0r the inquiry to be established was not only to justify the findings of the state capture report.

“If I’m captured by somebody else other than the Guptas, I’m not better off than people captured by the Guptas. Let’s drill deep and understand the influence of businesses on the ANC. It will go beyond the scope of the public protector’s report.” he said

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Answering questions on why Zuma must appoint a presiding judge, Mantashe said asking the Chief Justice to appoint a judge to preside over the judicial inquiry would be tampering with the Constitution.

“We are a constitutional state. What does the Constitution say? Should it be because we are suspicious of the incumbent that we should tamper with the constitution?” he asked.

The Constitution makes provisions for the President to choose what type of a commission of inquiry should be established and who should preside over it.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has filed a conditional counter-application against the Democratic Alliance’s case to force him to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture, despite his pending review application against the remedial actions recommended by the Public Protector.

In his counter application, Zuma challenged the remedial action, arguing that it overrides the president’s constitutional powers to appoint a Judicial Commission of Inquiry, as well as the judge who would head it.

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