JOHN STEENHUISEN: Why the ANC should appear before the Zondo commission
Those in the ANC who latterly say they did not know what was happening, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, are insulting our intelligence
It is difficult to square ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa’s outraged response to the DA’s call for his party to appear before the Zondo commission with the so-called "new dawn".
Kodwa’s mewling response proclaiming the ANC’s virtues rather reminded me of that famous Ralph Waldo-Emmerson quip: "The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons."
In any event, the explosive testimonies of Mcebisi Jonas and Phumla Williams have completely upended Kodwa’s argument.
Kodwa has also been at great pains to cast the Zondo commission as some brainwave of the ANC; he seems to believe the very fact that the commission is taking place somehow exonerates the ANC from any wrongdoing.
The ANC’s actions and inaction have come at a massive opportunity cost for SA, and our citizens are paying the price....
This is absurd and almost as ridiculous as arguing that because the National Party participated in a democratic election in 1994 they were magically absolved of their undemocratic conduct of the previous 40 years.
The truth is that the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture is not a generous gift to the nation from the ANC, but rather the enactment of the clear remedial action set out by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her report, State of Capture.
The report itself represents an indictment of parliament and the failure of the ANC majority over the course of eight years to heed the loud warning bells and move decisively against the scourge of state capture.
The state capture project was executed directly under the nose of the ANC national executive, within the Zuma cabinet and in the ANC caucus. It was an ANC project, facilitated by ANC members who conceived it, nurtured it and protected it.
Those in the ANC who latterly claim they were not aware of what was happening, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, are frankly insulting the intelligence of the South African public. It is simply inconceivable that the capture of the state and associated shenanigans were unknown to a large segment of the ANC top leadership. Even more especially to those who themselves were seated around the cabinet table of the Zuma presidency.
Instead of acting, these individuals, just like their party, were captured by inertia, failing to move decisively to block state capture and actually allowing it to flourish. It was only when it became politically expedient to comment and act on state capture, and the Gupta leaks ensured that inevitable exposure was imminent, that some in the ANC began singing a different tune.
Throughout the state capture narrative, which has weaved through the Union Buildings, Luthuli House, the SA Revenue Service, the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and state-owned enterprises, high-profile individuals have been named to be working with the Guptas. From the top, it started with former president Jacob Zuma, his son Duduzane Zuma, and a number of top cabinet and ministerial positions (many of whom still serve in the cabinet and parliament today).
The ANC’s actions and inaction have come at a massive opportunity cost for SA, and our citizens are paying the price as the ANC government now reaches into its pockets to pick up the tab for state capture through multimillion-rand bailouts, VAT increases and fuel price hikes.
The Zondo commission will no doubt identify individuals to be grilled throughout the inquiry, but the main culprit is actually the ANC as a political organisation.
Ramaphosa, as party president, should be called on to testify on how the ANC party machine facilitated state capture. Only then can we look to change the system and avoid the inevitable convenient focus on a handful of scapegoats.
This is especially because our recent political history is littered with an array of commissions and inquiries, very few of which have ever actually led to the political protagonists being held accountable for their acts of omission and commission.
State capture has been the defining feature of the ANC government for the past decade. Contrary to Kodwa’s assertion, the ANC is actually on trial, and it’s high time and long overdue that some senior political heads are finally placed on spikes.
• Steenhuisen is a DA MP and chief whip of the opposition in Parliament