Mark Heywood | Daily Maverick | 7 October 2019
We are more than a year into the Zondo Commission, but sometimes one can be forgiven for thinking, where are the people’s voices and who were the real victims? On 12 October a People’s Hearing in Johannesburg aims to answer those questions.
In late 2018 a Civil Society Working Group on State Capture was established with the aim of helping to ensure the effectiveness of the Zondo Commission into State Capture. Nearly a year later the coalition includes more than 20 civil society organisations committed to working to ensure accountability for crimes linked to State Capture. They include Right2Know, Open Secrets, Corruption Watch, Equal Education, the Treatment Action Campaign, SECTION27 and Outa.8
The working group operates independently of the commission, monitors its progress and has engaged openly with it on its objectives and concerns. This year it has coordinated the development and submission of a number of evidence-based submissions supported by a joint advocacy strategy. The organisations are also working on a joint submission to the commission which will hopefully become a roadmap for civil society for future action. The objective is to draw attention to the social costs of corruption and its negative impact on the transformation and the realisation of crucial rights, such as to health and basic education.
Put bluntly, the price poor people pay for elite corruption is dignity, hope and even life.
To this end, in the course of 2019, civil society organisations have now made nearly 30 written submission to the Zondo Commission. Included are submissions by the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) on the nuclear deal; Corruption Watch on public procurement; Right2Know, SOS coalition and Media Monitoring Africa on the surveillance of activists and journalists; Outa on political leaders associated with State Capture; and SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign on the looting of the health system.
The impact of State Capture in the education system is brought under the spotlight by Equal Education and others. The submissions also focus on private sector enablers of corruption (Open Secrets), the Sassa grants scandal (Black Sash, Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition). The My Vote Counts submission looks at the corruption associated with political party funding.
Although most of these submissions have not been made public yet, the working group is hopeful that later in 2019 the commission will dedicate several days to hearing these submissions. Maverick Citizen intends to report on this.
In the meantime, the collective advocacy strategy which the working group has decided to embark on is the People’s Hearing on State Capture, a one-day public meeting at Constitution Hill on 12 October 2019.