The long-awaited State Capture Inquiry kicked off on a sour note yesterday when inefficiencies created by various state organs in the inquiry’s work were raised.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said some government departments and state organs, among them National Treasury and State Security Agency (SSA), have been uncooperative in assisting the inquiry.
An impasse has emerged between SSA and the inquiry over the necessary top security clearance of some of the commission’s investigators, legal team and other employees.
This matter, said Zondo, has not been sorted despite the inquiry’s start yesterday.
“As of Thursday, there has not been much that security agencies have done in expediting the security clearance,” said Zondo.
He has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the processing of security clearance for members of the inquiry team, as it has delayed the inquiry getting off the ground.
Zondo has also asked Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to intervene in his request for the National Treasury to assist the inquiry. “Nene has been helpful,” he said.
Zondo implored government officials and those implicated in the corrosive state capture project to provide evidence.
“The inquiry depends on the cooperation of government departments. [Not cooperating with the inquiry] doesn’t help the inquiry in finding solutions and dealing with corruption and state capture.”
The public’s response to the inquiry has been “quite disappointing”, with the public not submitting evidence.
The commission was established by former president Jacob Zuma in January last year. It is mandated to look at corruption and fraud at various state organs in which high-profile politicians, including Zuma, have been directly or indirectly implicated, as highlighted by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in the State of Capture report.
The inquiry is guided by the report, which was released in 2016, in which one of its remedial action was for it to be instituted.
The inquiry’s head of legal team, Paul Pretorius, said the first issue the inquiry will deal with is ministerial appointments and dismissals at various organs of state, with several key witnesses expected to testify.
Among the witnesses are former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor. Both have said they were offered key ministerial positions by the Gupta family.
Zondo said the duration of the inquiry would be guided by the evidence submitted.
The High Court in Pretoria recently granted his request for an order to extend the inquiry for a further two years.