South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

The State Capture Commission years: The highs, lows and where to now

Deputy Chief Justice Zondo at the state capture commission of inquiry on 24 August 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk 24 / Deaan Vivier)

Then public protector Thuli Madonsela released her State of Capture report almost six years ago - in October, 2016. This was the trigger for the establishment of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Over the last four years, countless inches of column space have been given to the inquiry. As now Chief Justice Raymond Zondo prepares to hand over its final report, we look back at the highs and lows, and how it has changed South Africa, hopefully for the better.

How the hearings started

State of Capture report: Passing Thuli Madonsela’s legacy to the future


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.

 

As Days of Zondo start, it’s the politics of it that matter


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.

 

State Capture: Can the Zondo Commission get the job done?


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.

 

The testimonies

The ego has landed: Hlaudi Motsoeneng, King of the Capturers, lands at Zondo


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.

The unravelling of Angelo Agrizzi, State Capture’s racist whistle-blower


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.

 

R500-billion and counting! Minister’s bombshell affidavit puts the first costing on State Capture


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.

 

State Capture commission’s 40 questions for Jacob Zuma that have yet to see the light of day


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 gap between testimony and reality at the Zondo commission, Mo Shaik edition


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?

 

Ramaphosa’s testimony exposes the vast contours of the ANC’s shadow state


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.

 

ANC politicians’ kids showered with favours, gifts and contracts thanks to State Capture cash


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.

 

The casualties

South Africa owes those who paid a great personal price for fighting against State Capture


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.

 

The total(ish) cost of the Guptas’ State Capture: R49,157,323,233.68


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.

 

Ace Magashule’s corruption case offers hints of the challenges to prosecuting State Capture crimes


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.

 

Zondo Commission may have changed South Africa forever – for the better


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.

 

 

As the Zondo Commission reports show, it may be time to curb the President’s powers

presidential security


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.

 

 

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