South Africa has had its fair share of commissions that were epic failures. Most of them were set up to fail because it was in the interests of powerful politicians to have them fail. The most famous of these failed commissions being the arms deal commission.
If an issue needed cover-up, setting up a commission of inquiry was the way to go about covering it up. When Thuli Madonsela recommended that the chief justice of the Constitutional Court set up the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture she was seeking a way to avoid this important commission from becoming an epic failure like others before it.
Thus far, her suggested remedy has been bearing good fruit.
The explosive testimony of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi has everyone in the country on tenterhooks.
Although most of what he says has been in the public domain for a while now, it is the simple act of saying it on a public platform without fear that has shocked many.
He is not only providing a smoking gun for the law to take its course, he’s also revealing where the body is buried, by whom, and is providing evidence to back up his claims.
The excitement surrounding his evidence is crucial for two main reasons: firstly, he’s confirming the extent of the rot that we all knew was there but preferred to wish away and, secondly, Agrizzi is holding a mirror to our face as a society and forcing us to look at ourselves.
Agrizzi’s testimony, combined with the evidence that was provided detailing ministers’ late night visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, are enough to dispel the notion that this commission is just another cover-up strategy. Whether or not the recommendations that commission chair Raymond Zondo will make are followed up and implemented, the commission is already a success.
It has provided a platform that has allowed some healing to begin. It has ripped off the band aid that was covering a festering wound of corruption. No longer can it be said some politicians are suspected of being corrupt, it is confirmed they are.
Citizens will now know that the cancer of corruption has tentacles that have gone far into the very fabric of our society.
People have, of course, come up with numerous denials that have sought to cast a shadow over Agrizzi’s character and motives. And those falsely accused must be given the right to cross examine his testimony, it’s only fair.
But Agrizzi has shown that the last line of defence against corruption is human beings, flesh and blood, as opposed to making a million laws against corruption. He has shown that when provided the right platform and protection, we can push back against the scourge.
With the appointment of the new head of the National Prosecuting Authority in Shamila Batohi, one can only hope that indictments of those implicated are already being prepared.
There is far too much evidence of wrongdoing to simply go on as though all is normal. To ensure that the time and money put into setting up the commission does not go to waste, heads must roll and the guilty must be locked up.
South Africa and its people need to be shown that no one is above the constitution.