Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Capturing the governing party is the “easy vehicle” of capturing the state, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas says.

Jonas took to the stand for a second time on Friday at the state-capture commission of inquiry, which sits in Johannesburg, where he will be cross-examined by lawyers representing former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane and businessman Fana Hlongwane.

Jonas was axed as deputy finance minister in 201,7 together with then finance minister Pravin Gordhan, by Jacob Zuma.

Before cross-examination started on Friday, Jonas dealt with the relationship between party and state, saying there was no strong line between the two in SA, which has been governed by the ANC since 1994. He said the commission should try and find an answer as to how a wall could be drawn between the party and the state.

Jonas told the commission that the institutions in SA that survived were those that were not linked to a political term, such as the SA Reserve Bank and the judiciary.

“The danger, I would still argue, with the process of state capture — can I use the term to ‘over-zumanise’ it? To think that it was about Zuma, that would be the biggest mistake. It is bigger. It is structural. It is systemic. You will miss the point if you do that,” Jonas told the commission.

Jonas also referred to the debate around moving the budget office from the National Treasury to the presidency, saying that the “naive” explanation in arguing for the move was that expenditure was not aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP).

However, he said that at the core of the injunction was an understanding that it needs to be placed “at a point where regulation is not taken seriously”.

Jonas said the idea, which developed in the government and was then taken to party structures, led to a lot of senior officials in the National Treasury resigning. “They thought it was absurd,” Jonas said. “If you manage the budget, this thing of state capture becomes very easy.” 

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