President Cyril Ramaphosa favoured us with another commission of inquiry this week. We now have these commissions coming out of our ears. It seems our president can’t help himself. He is, to resort to a cliché, the gift that keeps giving.

And spare a thought for the lawyers. Poor things. They’re making a killing.

There is nothing wrong with commissions. Exposing raw facts about wrongdoing or malfeasance can be a devastating political weapon. It can also help construct a narrative that is digestible to the public and makes for better decision-making by the government. It becomes a problem when commissions are seen as substitute for taking firm and immediate action.

And these things don’t come cheap. An infrastructure has to be created from scratch — office space, IT systems, secretaries, receptionists, security guards, cleaners, tea ladies, and lawyers and their hangers-on. Offering a ready-made infrastructure for our now ubiquitous commissions could be a lucrative business for some enterprising tenderpreneurs.

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