Zondo commission: what’s on the cards?
SA’s law enforcement agencies, which have not been bathed in glory by the evidence so far, will be in the spotlight
The tantalising tale of how a bunch of mafioso-like boets from Krugersdorp allegedly bribed the state blind to secure lucrative contracts made for a sensational and sobering start to 2019.
The Zondo commission started day 34 of its inquiry into state capture, and the first for the new year, with a witness whose identity was initially shrouded in secrecy and who is now under witness protection.
The endearingly slimy Angelo Agrizzi, former COO of facilities management company Bosasa, left the pretence of respectability at the door when he came to explain how officials and politicians were bribed. Braai packs, booze and monthly payments — totalling about R4m-R6m a month — were the order of the day as Bosasa raked in state contracts.
In what was almost a shock to SA’s corruption-fatigued commentators, the first evidence was delivered that did not relate to the notorious Gupta family. But Bosasa’s wheelings and dealings are nothing new — they were simply dwarfed over the years by the actions of a family that went as far as choosing cabinet ministers.
What’s become clear is that the state can be "captured" by more than one entity — and it was.
But the diversion from the Guptas is likely to be brief, given the plan that Paul Pretorius, the head of the commission’s legal team, has for the coming months.
One of the first issues the commission dealt with when it began work last year was that of the appointment and dismissal of government officials, including ministers. Issues of governance, particularly at state-owned entities (SOEs), were also in the spotlight.
Pretorius says this evidence is not yet complete, and there will be occasion to hear more on the matter in the next few weeks specifically, but also later.
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan have all given evidence, but none so far has been cross-examined — a step that is still on the cards.
In the coming months, the commission will also deal with evidence relating to the unlawful awarding of tenders to benefit any family, individual or corporate entity.
Pretorius says this evidence will primarily be led under the rubric of the SOEs. Among the stars of that particular universe — which created SA’s financial black hole — are Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SAA and the SABC.
Pretorius says the evidence will be laid out in tranches specific to each SOE. The first stop — set for the coming weeks — will be Eskom.
SA’s law enforcement agencies, which have not been bathed in glory by the evidence so far, will also be in the spotlight. Pretorius says evidence concerning these bodies will follow in the next two weeks.
"The view of the legal team is that central to the environment in which state capture, corruption and fraud may take place — and central to its detection and prosecution, and ultimately its prevention — is the role and conduct of law enforcement agencies," he explains. "A considerable tranche of evidence in the next two months will deal with these issues."
The explosive revelations will keep coming as we inch closer to the national and provincial elections. Skeletons will likely tumble from closets, and more heads may roll. Nene resigned after he gave evidence last year, and the commission’s own secretary, Khotso de Wee, has been placed on special leave after being implicated in Agrizzi’s testimony.
It might be handy to start making a list of who should fall and who actually does — one never knows when accountability and justice will finally come calling.