(First published in ANC Today)
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo this week delivered his final report of his inquiry into state capture.
Over 5,000 pages, the Zondo Commission – named after its chairperson Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – goes into forensic detail about the way state resources were plundered.
It also shows how the wealthy businessmen, the Gupta brothers, tried to influence political and economic decisions in a process known as “state capture”.
The African National Congress pledged its cooperation with the commission from the onset and took the nation into its confidence with regard to the path we had trodden.
There are few ruling political parties in Africa and the world who would have countenanced such a path wherein our own soul and being as an organisation would have been put up to scrutiny.
Indeed, elsewhere in the world and on our continent, the so-called Big Men would have swept the dirt under the carpet.
The ANC chose a different path and the South African society would be richer for it.
The final volumes of the report that resulted from the Zondo commission were handed over on Wednesday.
It is important at this juncture to trace the origins of how we arrived at this crossroads.
Former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, when her tenure was reaching its zenith, deigned that a commission would be necessary to unravel the capture of key institutions of our government.
The commission was set up in 2018, with then-Deputy Chief Justice Zondo given the mammoth task of hearing testimony to unravel the vicissitudes of the behind-the-scenes skullduggery perpetrated by our own comrades.
Initially slated to take place over 180 days, the hearings stretched to more than 400 days during which more than 300 witnesses testified. The whole process took nearly four years.
The evidence revealed how ANC leaders, including former and current ministers, allegedly participated or encouraged looting at a massive cost to the country.
This included crippling the country’s revenue service, bringing the national carrier South African Airways to its knees, looting the agency that runs the country’s passenger railways, and interfering with the public broadcaster, the SABC.
The secret service was also weakened through the appointment of senior spies who prevented investigations from taking place.
The ANC has always prioritised transparency above anything that we do because we sought to distinguish ourselves and reign from the previous supremacist and racist regime.
The people of South Africa are better off knowing what was done in their name.
The sins of incumbency since the ANC came into power in 1994 have undoubtedly brought about the calibre of cadre the ANC can do without.
In our ranks lurks self-interest comrades who were willing to do their master’s bidding and sacrifice the principles Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Oliver Tambo and many of our stalwarts stood for.
The rogue comrades betrayed the trust that was placed in the ANC by our people. They stole from the masses of our people even at a time when state resources were meant to uplift and empower our people from centuries of oppression and denial of opportunities.
We applaud Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for the sterling work he managed under trying circumstances wherein he and his team faced unprecedented challenges.
As previously demonstrated when we embarked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the early days of our democracy, no issue will be swept under the carpet.
The State Capture Commission was given leeway to examine and microscope every facet of the malfeasance that happened under the nose of our people.
The 54th National Conference was elected on a promise of renewal and unity. It took cognisance that the sins of incumbency had crept into our movement and threatened the very soul of what the ANC stood for for over a century.
This was not an exercise in futility. It was painful and unpleasant. It is important to urge every upright cadre and comrade of the ANC to see the wood for the trees.
The capture of our state by a motley crowd from our ranks was shameful and unhistorical.
It stood against the ethos that this great movement is about.
However, this gives us a moment to pause and self-correct.
The renewal process we embarked upon post-Nasrec is well underway.
Those who have been fingered as vital corks that fuelled state capture must face the music.
Clearly, they had forgotten umrhabulo that was embedded in us by our forebears.
The struggle was never about self-interest but the emancipation of our people.
Of course, there will be much consternation and fight back from those who have been fingered in Justice Zondo’s findings.
As a democracy, those would be given the opportunity to defend themselves and take us into their confidence whose interests they were serving.
We welcome and acknowledge the report by the Chief Justice and re-dedicate ourselves to ensuring that a few bad apples do not derail the transformation project.
The renewal and unity of the ANC and South Africa is on track. DM