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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

First witness in state capture probe takes to stand

Willie Mathebula, who was appointed acting chief procurement officer at National Treasury in 2017, will take to the stand as the first witness in the state capture probe.

Willie Ndleleni Mathebula has taken to the stand as the first witness in the state capture inquiry on Tuesday morning.

The witness, who was appointed acting chief procurement officer at National Treasury in 207, is expected to outline the rules and processes surrounding procurement.

Promising to leave no stone unturned, head of the State Capture Inquiry Judge Raymond Zondo on Monday described state capture as being about a network of relationships – both inside and outside government – “repurposing government departments, officials and state-owned entities for private gain”.

Widespread allegations of corruption in some government departments, the SABC, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Denel, South African Airways, Eskom and Transnet, are to dominate proceedings when witnesses take the stand from today.

“It is self-evident that the very essence of the 1996 constitution was to end a political system that had indeed been captured by a government acting in the interests of a privileged minority at the expense of a disempowered, marginalised and impoverished majority,” Zondo said.

READ MORE: Zondo invites Zuma to give evidence at state capture inquiry – report

“Our terms of reference direct us – at least in the first instance – to a different period and to answer a different question: has the state again – to a larger or lesser degree – been captured?

“Has it been possible, once again, to distort and manipulate state entities in such a manner and to such a degree to serve the interests of a privileged few?

“And what is the significance of this question being asked in 2018? How could it occur in a constitutional democracy post 1996? In other words, the broader question signified by our terms of reference read as a whole may be asked: has the democratic project envisaged by our constitution been derailed? If so, can it be put back on track, and how?”

The inquiry is expected to examine, among others, allegations made by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, and former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor, that the Gupta family was involved in influencing former president Jacob Zuma in making Cabinet appointments.

“The ethics code requires that the president and the Cabinet must always behave in the best interests of good governance, with integrity, in good faith, loyally, and never in a way that is inconsistent with their position,” Zondo said.

“They may not share privileged information and they may not use their position to benefit themselves or other parties.”

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