25 October 2020| Daily Maverick | Zukiswa Pikoli |
More than 20 civil society organisations have written an open letter to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo highlighting a list of witnesses they believe should be prioritised during the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, saying that the commission should use its full power to compel them to appear before it. The group believes that the list of highlighted witnesses will be instrumental in strengthening the commission’s work.
At the beginning of 2020, the group had sent the Zondo Commission their own “Agenda for Action” which they felt would strengthen the work of the commission. While commending the commission’s firm stance on former President Jacob Zuma’s appearance before it, they said they were concerned that the commission would be handing over its recommendations in the next five months and wanted to know if unheard cases would be referred to other state anti-corruption agencies for further investigation.
The group reaffirmed that they supported the narrowed terms of reference which would allow the commission to conduct its work more efficiently. They highlighted that through the group’s working committee they had unearthed that the actors in State Capture went beyond just the Guptas, but also extended to banks, consulting firms, legal firms and audit firms.
Hennie van Vuuren, director of civil society organisation Open Secrets, said “If the public wants a tick list to monitor the Zondo Commission’s effectiveness in its last few months: this is it. We want to see the powerful hauled before the commission to answer for their alleged crimes against the people – there should be no exception for powerful corporations or politicians.
“Earlier this year civil society groups similarly submitted an Agenda for Action to the commission and we need to see meaningful engagement with the content of these submissions and documents. We will be monitoring the work of the commission closely in the weeks ahead. Ultimately we need it to do a thorough job and make the process of prosecutions easier.”