How the hearings started
In her final report, “State of Capture”, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s ’s key recommendation was that a judicial commission of inquiry be appointed, Greg Nicolson reported. Her report was the beginning of the State Capture Commission years.
In the run-up to the start of the Zondo Commission’s hearings, Stephen Grootes wrote that it would be some time before the commission made any official findings. But its work also carried risks to the judiciary, should it be perceived as not actually getting to the nub of the issues. “However, once it starts hearing witnesses, it may be not the findings but the political impact of the testimonies that matters,” Grootes wrote.
On 9 March 2018, Rebecca Davis wrote that the commission of inquiry into State Capture was officially a reality. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announced that a team of six commissioners and additional investigators had already begun their work probing allegations of State Capture. Up until this point, the commission’s composition had been greeted with cautious optimism – but some fairly significant concerns remained.
When Hlaudi George Motsoeneng made his much-anticipated appearance at the Zondo Commission on Monday, 10 September 2019, he embodied the fuck-you zeitgeist of the Zuma-era of State Capture, Marianne Thamm wrote.
After a marathon nine days in the witness box, former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi finally vacated the stand at the State Capture inquiry – publicly unmasked and shamed as a racist, Jessica Bezuidenhout reported.
The world according to David Mahlobo: everyone is a spy, everyone/everything is being watched, including the State Capture Commission
Former minister of state security David Mahlobo ducked and dived under the cloak of his ‘oath of office’ and ‘state security’ while testifying at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on Friday, 9 April 2021, Marianne Thamm wrote at the time. People, he warned, could be recruited by foreign agencies “knowingly or unknowingly, wittingly or unwittingly”.
Police whisk Gigaba’s estranged wife Norma away from State Capture Commission after ‘security threat’
Norma Mngoma, the wife of former Cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba, had to abruptly halt her explosive testimony to the Zondo Commission after a ‘security threat’ was reported, wrote Marianne Thamm.
Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan’s testimony to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, as contained in his affidavit which was leaked the night before, revealed that the axing of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 cost the South African economy R500-billion. Ferial Haffajee reported.
With the chief witness seat empty after the serial delinquent refused to turn up again, Ferial Haffajee reported that the commission laid out the 40 areas on which it would have questioned the former head of state.
The Zondo commission has seen some bad witnesses — and some apparently very good ones. Former intelligence boss Mo Shaik seemed to fall into the latter category, Rebecca Davis wrote. But as convincing as his performance was, did the details of his story actually make sense?
The questioning of President Cyril Ramaphosa by four evidence leaders in a marathon day of testimony exposed how the ANC’s shadow state has come to dominate how South Africa works through a set of parallel party practices mostly obscure to ordinary citizens, Ferial Haffajee wrote.
Don’t touch politicians’ kids. The Zondo Commission found this out when inquiry investigators subpoenaed the bank records of former president Jacob Zuma’s children and an irate Zuma accused them of “crossing the line”, Rebecca Davis reported.
In September 2019, the Zondo Commission heard how at least two ministers of police, various senior SAPS, NPA, crime intelligence and DPCI (Hawks) officials, a private law firm and at least two journalists were used to undermine ethical officials and subvert South Africa’s democracy. The heroes in the shameful chapter that has come to be known as the State Capture years are the ethical officials who stood up to the relentless bullying of what can only be termed a seemingly unaccountable mafia embedded within the state, wrote Marianne Thamm.
Strange, we’ve seen this thing before: Break-in at offices of Zondo Commission is sign of panic as final deadline looms
On a Saturday night in April 2021, intruders gained access to the Parktown, Johannesburg, offices of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry by cutting the perimeter security fence and evading security. They made off with two laptops and other items, Marianne Thamm reported.
Appearing before the Zondo Commission on Monday, investigator Paul Holden meticulously laid out the flow of money from government entities to the Guptas’ money laundering apparatus. Almost R50bn can be traced through invoices and bank statements – but, warned Holden, the true cost to the state is definitely higher. Rebecca Davis reported.
How it’s ending
Look back in astonishment: Mcebisi Jonas on the big takeouts from Zondo Commission, and Ramaphosa’s stealth moves against State Capture
In an interview with Marianne Thamm in 2021, former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas revealed that President Cyril Ramaphosa, while Jacob Zuma’s deputy, had, in fact, directly attempted to mitigate some of the damage caused by decisions made by Zuma and the party.
The case against suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule related to the Free State asbestos scandal continues. Lawyers are arguing that the State’s case is built too heavily on Zondo Commission testimony which is inadmissible in court — the first of what is likely to be many such claims, Rebecca Davis wrote.
As the commission moves into drafting the final report on its findings there is strong evidence that it has already altered our politics. This might lead to important, long-term and fundamental changes, Stephen Grootes wrote.
While the final part of the Zondo report emerges — with the focus on corruption in the Jacob Zuma administration — it is perhaps time to concede that there could be too much power in the office of the president to appoint or dismiss functionaries in the public service, police, intelligence and public entities, writes Alexandra Willis.