President Jacob Zuma is consulting with legal advisers to launch a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
Answering questions in Parliament, Ramaphosa said he was fully supportive of a commission being set up, as various allegations have been made in the public about undue influence on government, which is of grave concern.
“Where crimes have been committed, those responsible must be prosecuted,” he said, adding that it was of the utmost importance that a competent body be set up urgently to deal with the allegations.
“President Jacob Zuma, who is head of state and head of government, has the powers to set up such a commission. He has stated he is not opposed to such a commission, and as we speak now, he is in the process of consulting his legal advisers to find ways of giving effect to this proposal.”
He said South Africa must be seen as a country where the rule of law is upheld, and that the allegations of state capture need to be investigated so that the country can restore faith in the SOEs that have been implicated.
“Those who have evidence must come forward, and those mentioned should be given an opportunity to clear their names,” he said.
In the Public Protector’s report on state capture, one order given was for a judicial commission to be set up within 30 days of the report’s release, to investigate the claims contained within the report.
Many government officials, including president Jacob Zuma himself, were implicated in the report, and have opposed it on various levels.
Despite claims from Ramaphosa that president Zuma was looking to launch the commission – and Zuma’s own declaration that he is not opposed to setting it up – all of his legal activities around it have been to block its establishment.
Zuma has taken the state capture report on review, saying that the Public Protector has no legal or constitutional right to order him to set up a commission on their terms – a right which is held solely by the president.
The Public Protector ordered that the commission be set up with a judge chosen by the chief justice, to avoid a conflict of interest in Zuma, as an implicated person, having control of an investigation into himself.
The DA has launched a court bid to try and force Zuma to comply with the Public Protector’s findings, arguing that his legal review of the state capture report did not suspend the Public Protector’s orders, and said the president should have set up the commission within 30 days as ordered.
Zuma has since launched a conditional counter application to stop that DA bid.