The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed the release of the first report into state capture and corruption by judge Raymond Zondo, but warned that the hard work done by the commission will be pointless if it is not acted upon by authorities.
The Zondo report concluded that the state had been ‘captured’ during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure and made damning findings against the ruling party and several top officials.
Cosatu, which is the country’s largest trade federation and represents some 1.8 million workers, said it was unhappy with the slow progress when it comes to prosecuting those who are implicated in corruption.
“There are no acceptable excuses anymore, we demand action now. A lot of money has been spent on investigating corruption allegations by the Zondo Commission and workers demand value for their tax rands.” Judge Zondo put the cost of the commission’s probe at almost R1 billion.
“What is needed now is for the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service to act swiftly upon its recommendations, to charge and prosecute the implicated, and ensure that they are brought to justice,” Cosatu said.
Criminals and fraudsters should know that there is a price to be paid for stealing. This should equally apply to both the public and private sector, the trade federation said.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela said the release of the report will hopefully open a new chapter in ensuring South Africa’s democracy is not hijacked. She added that there need to be consequences for the reported corruption, but cautioned against undermining the justice process by pushing for immediate consequences.
“Just knowing the truth gives us an opportunity to fix which has been broken,” she said.
Magda Wierzycka, anti-corruption activist and executive chair of asset management firm, Sygnia Limited also called for action to be taken against the Guptas, highlighted in the report as the architects of capturing the state.
On Zondo, no surprises. We knew most of it. I had to get an injunction against Mzwanele Manyi when I took him on. He harassed me on Twitter, inciting others to threaten me. Guptas should finally be placed on Interpol Red Notice. Arrest warrants, asset forfeiture should follow.
— Magda Wierzycka (@Magda_Wierzycka) January 5, 2022
While Cosatu welcomed many of the recommendations of the Zondo report, it said that these will remain meaningless unless they are implemented, and the legislative powers given to the state to tackle corruption are fully exercised.
“We hope that this will represent the end of a regrettable chapter of corruption and looting in the country. The Federation hopes that South Africa will never have another Commission of Inquiry investigating corruption, and that lessons have been learnt by our government,” it said.
“To avoid another state capture commission, we need to ensure that there is transparency in all government contracts, or anywhere where taxpayers are involved. We need everyone’s energies to be focused on fixing the ailing economy and reducing unemployment and poverty.”
Urgent action required
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said that following the handing over of the reports from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, “our nation must now embark on the arduous journey of ridding our country of impunity and political unaccountability by charging the accused, placing them behind bars, and eradicating the scourge of ANC corruption once and for all”.
He called on president Cyril Ramaphosa to urgently table the first Zondo Report in Parliament so that the legislative wing of the country’s constitutional democracy can get to work studying its findings and take the necessary remedial action.
“For far too long the ANC’s pervasive and insidious style of corruption and tender manipulation, aided and justified by the party’s cadre deployment policy, has hollowed out our public service, awarded tenders to friends and family, and robbed taxpayers of the services for which they continue to pay.
“But, more importantly, the ANC’s culture of political unaccountability and impunity must fall if we are to set a precedent to deter the wholesale capture of the state by politicians ever again,” said Steenhuisen.
He said that South Africans have seen countless commissions of inquiry, investigations, and reports over the years which have led to no prosecutions and no consequences for those implicated.
“The DA will ensure that judge Raymond Zondo’s findings, after a four-year-long Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, are implemented.
“South Africans deserves justice for the estimated R1 trillion looted through ANC corruption over the past decade and the subsequent decline of our country and its people in the shadow of political greed.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the government will only make pronouncements on the findings or recommendations of the report after all three parts have been received.
The submission of the remaining parts of the report is expected to reach the president’s desk by 28 February 2022, while submission of the report and implementation plan to Parliament is expected to take place by the end of June 2022.
However, according to president Ramaphosa, this does not prevent other institutions from acting within their statutory mandate on any of the findings and recommendations contained in the report.
“This report enables us to up our tempo in the fights against state capture, and if we work together we will be able to rid our country of the gross actions of corruption we have seen in the past,” the president said.