Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has come forward to accuse President Jacob Zuma of being “either oblivious or unconcerned” about the various issues plaguing the country – including serious and continually growing allegations of state capture.
In pleading for swift action, Madonsela told The Citizen that while “the country is in bad shape”, Zuma also seemed “unaware” that such a level of uncertainty and discontent was a threat to national peace, stability and, ultimately, democracy.
She further urged Zuma to institute a commission of inquiry as stipulated in her report into state capture, released as she ended her term last year.
“Many top leaders in government, political parties and civil society believe this to be so, and are working hard to get South Africa on track in the pursuit of the South Africa of our dreams.
“Based on his public utterances, President Zuma appears to be either oblivious or unconcerned about the enormous social, economic, political, governance and ethical challenges confronting this great nation at the moment.”
If state capture allegations and the evidence supporting it were not acted on fast, Madonsela pointed out, “it may be too late to arrest the rot, should such rot indeed be there”.
“Furthermore, the suspicions created by the failure to investigate the state capture and related grand corruption allegations and emerging evidence is creating dysfunctional relationships that are impeding good governance in violation of sections 195 and 237 of the constitution,” she further charged.
Madonsela said she was left “surprised and confused” by Zuma’s response to the leaked Gupta emails, which point to large-scale corruption and state capture by the controversial Gupta family.
“The emails provide stronger evidencing establishing a prima facie case of grand corruption involving corrupt influencing of state appointments, regulatory processes, contracts by the Gupta family and the president’s son [Duduzane] through extending various forms of gratification or bribes to state functionaries.
“I expected him to act immediately to appoint the judicial commission of inquiry he has been objecting to, to confirm the evidence or clear the names of implicated people. His continuation as if things are normal is rather confusing.
“If the evidence is valid, then two things are happening while investigatory action is delayed: evidence is being destroyed, and the rot is getting worse.”
By the time probe was finally conducted the “enormity of the damage would be overwhelming”, “investigation outcomes will be weakened”, and “some damage, especially illegal contracts and abuse of state funds, will be irreparable”, she said.
“The cost of not appointing the commission is far more than the cost of the president’s perceived erosion if his powers,” she added.
She explained her reason for saying Zuma should leave the appointment of the judge heading the commission in the hands of the chief justice, since the president would normally appoint the head of any commission of inquiry.
Madonsela felt this would “help” Zuma by making the process less conflicted and therefore more credible.
“My intention was to help the president by encouraging public trust in the process so that, should the judge find there was no wrongdoing, there can be full buy-in by the people, thus strengthening constitutional democracy.”