At the start of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture there was inevitably an informal discussion among journalists on how much the exercise would actually reveal. Commissions have a terrible history in SA of not getting to the root of the issue, which is partly why they are so popular among politicians. Just think of the arms deal commission, which after four years came to the conclusion that it was unable to come to a conclusion. For politicians, commissions achieve two highly desirable goals. They appear to be "doing something" and responding to popular disquiet. They tend to be excruciatingly long-winded, which means that just by the power of the limited attention span of ordinary people they tend to grind even the most avid observers into a kind of somnambulistic submission. They are thus the political equivalent of kicking for touch; a safe way of averting danger in the short term. But given what the Zondo commission has already revealed, it’s turning out to be th...

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