The justice minister has let it be known that the cabinet is not considering the establishment of a new anti-corruption body under chapter 9 of the constitution — this is unfortunate
29 August 2022 – 15:25 Paul Hoffman SC
Justice minister Ronald Lamola has let it be known that the national cabinet is not considering the establishment of a new anti-corruption body under chapter 9 of the constitution. This announcement is unfortunate.
It flatly contradicts the broad instruction cabinet was given by the national executive committee of the ANC in August 2020. It flies in the face of the support the DA and IFP have given to much-needed reform of the gutted anti-corruption capacity of the criminal justice administration.
Most importantly, it flouts the binding requirements of the orders made by the Constitutional Court that effective and efficient anti-corruption machinery be put in place to honour the international obligations of the country and enable the state to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights.
Establishing a new Chapter Nine Integrity Commission with a mandate to prevent, combat, investigate and prosecute serious corruption would be a best practice implementation of the binding criteria required by the court, and would give effect to the NEC resolution.
Possible grey listing and ever worse junk status from the ratings agencies would be less of a threat to the economy, the poor and the unemployed if serious attention is given to reform. Implementing the Bill of Rights fully is costly at the best of times and impossible if serious corruption is allowed to continue to run rampant.
It is plain to any objective observer that the current saboteur-infested system in which Hawks investigate and prosecutors of the National Prosecuting Authority-run corruption cases is not working and has, by its own admission, built up a 10-year plus backlog.
The chief justice has observed that an “army of prosecutors” will be required to implement his anti-corruption recommendations. In successive state of the nation addresses the president has been steering towards a new body that reports to parliament, not the executive, like all existing “chapter nines”.
If the minister thinks throwing money at the Hawks and NPA will solve the problem of non-implementation of binding court orders, he should think again. Litigation to compel proper compliance with the court orders looms.
The only silver lining to this dark cloud of obfuscation is that the constitutional review committee of the National Assembly has unanimously resolved to receive a comprehensive submission on the subject from Accountability Now. Parliamentary oversight of the executive may yet save the day in the post-Zondo report era.
Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now