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As the implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the Zondo state capture commission is nervously awaited by the powerful, and eagerly awaited by the people, reform of the criminal justice system to better equip it to counter corruption and prevent a repetition of state capture is urgently required.

For 10 years the establishment of an independent, stand-alone entity has been championed by Accountability Now — setting up a chapter 9 integrity commission is the best practice way forward. A 66% vote in the National Assembly is all that is required to effect the reform needed.

The ANC, via its national executive committee, called for reform in 2020 in vague terms (permanent, stand-alone, specialised and independent) that match Accountability Now’s more detailed suggestion. The DA has come on board this year, and the IFP was first to embrace the idea back in 2019. Between the three, more than that 66% is within reach.

The cabinet, where so many “smallanyana skeletons”  are concealed, is a dawdling stumbling block, but it does not pass laws. Parliament was ordered in the Glenister case to pass remedial legislation to put in place effective and efficient machinery of state that is adequately independent of political influence and interference to deal with corruption.

The order stands. It has never been complied with properly for reasons made glaringly obvious by the Zondo commission. It is still the duty of parliament to effect implementation of the order and to ensure that cabinet implements laws it passes. Sections 165 and 55 of the constitution precisely require these tasks.

The political will to do what is right is driven by the political desire for re-election. Endorsing the establishment of a chapter 9 integrity commission is a matter of political survival. All political parties should work that out in time.

The interesting feature of corruption is that it is a greed driven, calculated and opportunistic form of crime that flourishes where there is impunity and shrivels away where there are consequences. If the prospect of being caught and punished is real and present, only the greediest take their chances.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now

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