The South African Federation of Trade Unions welcomes the statement by President Zuma announcing the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into state capture.
He had been left with no legal and political alternative, following the order of a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court on 14 December 2017 that remedial action ordered by by former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela was legally binding and that Zuma had 30 days to appoint a commission of inquiry, headed by a judge selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng into her report on ‘The State of Capture’.
In line with the court decision the commission will be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on the recommendation of Mogoeng Mogoeng.
This is an important victory for all South Africans, especially those trade union, civil society and other activists who have persistently demanded and campaigned for such an inquiry into the scandal of corruption and looting of the state’s resources, which has been exposed in the Public Protector’s ‘The State of Capture’ report, the SACC’s ‘Betrayal of the Dream’, OUTA’s ‘President Caught in the Act’, Gupta emails, Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers’ and other sources.
SAFTU however cautions that the establishment of this Commission will not on its own rescue the country from the disaster into which the looters have plunged the country. The Commissioners will require many months to investigate all the allegations already in the public domain and many more which are now likely to arise. We cannot sit back and wait for its report before taking other action against those responsible.
Those against whom there is already abundant prima facie evidence must be prosecuted without waiting for the outcome of the Commission. It is now urgent for Deputy President Ramaphosa to appoint a new National Director of Public Prosecutions, as instructed by the High Court, who will immediately open prosecutions against all of them, including Zuma.
The ANC NEC is expected to discuss the possible recall of the President. While SAFTU fully supports such a move, it warns against any attempt to suggest that Zuma is now the sole source of the problem and that his recall or resignation will signal the beginning of the end of the scourge of corruption.
All the ANC leaders have for years known exactly what has been going on and many of them are themselves personally implicated in acts of corruption and criminality and form part of the huge web of those involved. They cannot now try to change sides, shift all the blame on to Zuma and avoid the consequences of their own involvement.
There is also more and more evidence that business people, in South African and globally, have been complicit in the corrupt deals, cover-ups and money laundering which have been unearthed by the media. This confirms SAFTU’s long-held view that corruption is not confined to Zuma, the Guptas and their cronies, but is a symptom of an inherently corrupt, and in South Africa still overwhelmingly white, monopoly capitalist system.
The Guptas are a particularly obnoxious example of a system ruled by the principle of amassing the biggest possible profit as quickly as possible, by whatever legal or illegal means are at hand. But they are not fundamentally different from the more established monopoly capitalists who in reality ‘captured the state’ in the days of apartheid and still control it today.
The main difference is that their looting has been more discreet and secretive, featuring tax-evasion, price-fixing, tender collusion and laundering money into tax-havens. The Steinhoff affair has given a glimpse into the way the ‘respectable’ capitalist exploiters achieve the same results as the Guptas.
It will be a crucial test of the new ANC President that he is prepared to take on members of the class he has joined and not only focus on corruption in the public sector, important though that is, but to look at those in the private sector who have oiled the wheels of the corruption train.