Opinion

The ANC is not on trial at the commission of inquiry into state capture

26 August 2018 - 00:00 By ZIZI KODWA

Over the past year the ANC has called for the speedy establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture, which finally got underway this week. The ANC has been consistent in its view that the allegations of state capture have serious implications for the trust of the people in public institutions and for the image of our country.
This phenomenon also raises serious questions about the conduct of some who have been given strategic roles within the state machinery from time to time. In addition, the allegations of state capture talk to the demon of corruption that has poisoned some of our strategic institutions.
Our emergence from the trenches to the halls of power revealed a nation with scars that run deep from a brutal era of subjugation, oppression and racial segregation. The price our people paid for this democracy is too dear to be sacrificed. The ANC's commitment to creating a nation-state that is truly nonracial, truly nonsexist, truly emancipated and at peace with itself has never wavered. Our commitment and support for the work of the commission must therefore be understood against this principle.
The mere existence of this commission is a loud expression of the robustness of our constitutional democracy and the resilience of the institutional framework established to safeguard its values. It is equally an affirmation that the rule of law remains sacrosanct in our democracy and that any conduct that seeks to undermine these values will not go unpunished irrespective of the station of those proven to have violated them.
The ANC has acknowledged that the evidence placed before the commission may also lay bare conduct by its own members and leaders that may have aided instances of state capture or corruption. It is on that basis that we have called upon all citizens, including members of the ANC, who may be in possession of evidence or have first-hand knowledge of activities that fall within the ambit of the mandate of the commission to come forward and assist in the realisation of its mandate.
The ANC has never condoned corruption and sees the commission as an opportunity to send a clear message to the country that corruption has no place in our democratic order. We are under no illusion that the battle to eradicate corruption is not an easy one, but the ANC is determined to stay the course and cleanse our institutions and organs of state of corrupt practices. We will continue to fight corruption relentlessly until we have achieved the goal of restoring values of ethical leadership, the credibility of our institutions and the rule of law.
The resolution of the 54th national conference to speed up the establishment of the ANC integrity commission was a statement of intent by ANC branches of their desire to rebuild confidence in the ANC-led government as a custodian of the constitutional values. Similarly, it was an unambiguous expression of a policy direction that proclaims that corruption should not be tolerated.
Others have been quick to suggest that the commission translates to placing the ANC on trial, yet forget that the very commission is a consequence of the ANC's commitment to dealing a death blow to corruption. They pretend not to remember that the very Chapter 9 institutions charged with the all-important task of safeguarding the values of our constitution were what we fought for during the negotiations, and were created by the ANC as the governing party.
It must equally not elude us that the commission will interrogate the depth of corruption in state procurement across organs of state. There is no doubt that there are elements within the state machinery and in the private sector who are hellbent on milking state resources to feed their own greed and undermine the constitutional principles and our commitment to provide services to all South Africans. In dealing with corruption we must ensure that the long arm of the law also reaches those elements.
We urge the government to pay close attention to the proceedings of the commission with a view to taking away crucial lessons in relation to those policy and regulation implementation issues that create perverse incentives for corruption. As a nation, we must use the lessons that emerge from the work of the commission to build a stronger and more resilient regulatory framework that ensures that state resources are not diverted for nefarious reasons.
As we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, we must rededicate ourselves to the ANC's founding values.
We are under no illusion that the path we have yet to traverse as a nation towards the realisation of a truly emancipated society free of corruption and all forms of discrimination, is a long one. This commission presents us with an opportunity not only to learn from our mistakes, but to also build resilient institutions that can withstand scrutiny and enjoy the confidence of all South Africans.
• Kodwa is the ANC's head of the presidency at Luthuli House..

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