Shocking revelations at Zondo inquiry must lead to prosecutions
The commission of inquiry into state capture heard shocking details of how a deputy minister was told by private citizens that they controlled the president. This was the evidence of former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas, who told justice Raymond Zondo he was offered a R600m bribe in exchange for accepting the finance minister's job, if he agreed to assist the Gupta family in looting state coffers.
Even more shocking was Jonas's testimony that one of the Gupta brothers threatened to have him eliminated should he reveal details of the meeting.
Kudos to Jonas for ignoring the threat and lifting the lid on the rot. As reported in this newspaper, we can expect more bombshells to be dropped by ministers, government officials and their former colleagues. They will help Zondo, his team and the entire nation to connect the dots.
SA will finally know why Nhlanhla Nene was removed as finance minister on that fateful day in December 2015.
The commission will be told why Des van Rooyen was regarded as a suitable replacement. Testimony expected to be presented will enlighten us as to why Pravin Gordhan was shifted from the position of finance minister, and why former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was at one point earmarked for the post, before the ANC blocked that ill-fated move.
There should be some explanation as to why former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane travelled to Zurich at the same time as the Guptas before they received generous assistance from Eskom to buy the Optimum coal mine from Glencore, and maybe Faith Muthambi, former president Jacob Zuma's praise singer, will get an opportunity to explain why she shared confidential cabinet documents with private citizens.
Officials from the National Treasury, South African Revenue Service, Reserve Bank and Financial Intelligence Centre will assist the commission to follow the money moved from Eskom, Transnet and other state-owned entities to private firms, shelf companies, offshore bank accounts and the pockets of politicians and businessmen. The role of private companies such as Trillian, McKinsey and KPMG will be explained. Hopefully, by the end of the hearings, we will have a clear idea of who stole money from the public purse, who were the enablers of state capture and on whose instruction they were acting.
Should we get to the bottom of these questions, the next step will be what happens to those implicated. South Africans are tired of commissions of inquiry. They cost millions, and the recommendations they eventually produce end up gathering dust. Ask those who testified at the arms deal commission what a whitewash it became.
For Zondo to convince us that his will be different, there have to be consequences stemming from the evidence collected. The commission's terms of reference are such that witnesses cannot directly implicate themselves in criminal activity. However, as a legal expert connected with Wits University has pointed out, there is nothing to stop our law enforcement authorities from acting on that evidence and conducting their own investigations that can hopefully nail the looters of our money.
However, for that to happen we need credible institutions of law enforcement. The Hawks were heavily compromised during the looting period, and led by a buffoon. The same with the National Prosecuting Authority, led by a lame sheep who had no clue what it meant to use prosecutorial powers. Thanks to the change in the ANC leadership, the removal of Zuma, and the Constitutional Court, those institutions have been cleansed of poor leadership, and efforts are under way to restore their dignity and give them new teeth. Those now in charge must know that South Africans are out of patience.
The country wants to know that those responsible for mortgaging the state to private interests will not get away with their criminal activity. SA needs to see that the kind of arrogance that gave a Gupta brother the temerity to warn a deputy minister that he would be killed if he told of a bribe offer will not go unpunished.