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LETTER: Why was state capture allowed to happen and how can repetition be averted?

Emerging political consensus between ANC, DA and IFP that a new institution is needed to take up the corruption-busting cudgels must be acted on now, not in four months

28 JUNE 2022 – 13:39

I refer to your editorial, “Zondo reports: Now let’s see speedy action,” of June 27. The state capture commission has dealt with the applicable “what, who, when, where and how much” issues well. Less impressive is its treatment of the issues around “why” repurposing of the state for corrupt ends was allowed to happen, and “how” a repetition (or, some say, a continuation) be averted.

The omission of the criminal justice administration from the commission’s scrutiny, while understandable given the size of its mandate, accounts for the paucity of findings on the crucial “why” question. It is a pity that the crooks in blue uniforms and black gowns are not identified in the report.

On the “how” question: chief justice Raymond Zondo’s misreading of the leading case that sets out the applicable law is responsible for the lack of a clear recommendation to “refang” the criminal justice administration after the crippling dissolution of the Scorpions in 2009.

Mistaking the binding majority findings in “Glenister II” for a mere nonbinding minority judgment is a tragic (but correctable) error that diminishes the value of the recommendations made for anticorruption reform. The binding nature of the findings is not affected by the error.

The criminal justice administration’s corruption-busting capacity was disabled by the dissolution of the Scorpions, whose expertise, vigour, 94% success rate and esprit d ’corps made life difficult for those contemplating corruption or the capture of the state. Corruption flourishes in a context in which impunity reigns and accountability is absent. The thought of being caught, tried, and convicted keeps most would-be corrupt people in check. The converse is also lamentably the position, hence the pervasiveness of state capture.

Reinstating the Scorpions will not suffice; they were too vulnerable to dissolution. The emerging political consensus between ANC, DA and IFP that a new institution is required to take up the corruption-busting cudgels must be acted on now, not in four months. The draft legislation is available: let the debate commence.

Regarding the political effects: dissolution of parliament, an early election and raking back the considerable loot from the ANC are all in the mix. The voters of SA put the ANC into government; accountability demands that they be given a voice on whether they still wish to be led by warring factions whose turpitude is virtually indistinguishable.

The Zondo report shows the last two successive presidents (elephant and buffalo) have a lot to answer for, while their predecessor will go down in history for his HIV/Aids denialism, quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe and the arms deals corruption. Parliamentarians will surely work out that the longer voters are made to wait before voting, the lower their prospects of being re-elected.

Paul Hoffman
Director of Accountability Now

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