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The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture should not be narrowly focused. It should not simply concentrate on nailing the bastards (most of whom are known anyway). It must fulfil the same role as the TRC, help us to understand how we got into such a mess, the extent of the damage, and then cauterise the wound and cleanse our souls.

That won't happen if it only targets state capture suspects who may not be too forthcoming anyway for fear of incriminating themselves. Anybody with a smidgen of information should be made to sing like a canary.

The problem for the commission, which the TRC didn't have, is that the perpetrators of the criminality being investigated, namely the ANC, are still in power. They decided on its mandate, and it will be up to them to act on its recommendations, almost akin to an accused who has a remit to decide whether to abide by his sentence.

SA right now - apart from the brawling and the burning that continue unabated - seems and feels like a huge talking shop. We're probably the best exponents of the Churchillian aphorism that to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. Except we do fight as well. We're a truly loquacious lot. If some smart alec in search of a quick buck were to come up with a world talking contest, we'd walk it with ease. We're that good at it. Instead of work we talk. But talking can be useful. We shouldn't disparage it. After all, the Codesa process got us out of a jam when many had given us up for dead. There's a renaissance of these confabs, probably stimulated by President Cyril Ramaphosa who, in his inaugural state of the nation address, reeled off six or seven such summits and conferences and initiatives on jobs, youth unemployment, investment etc. And then there are the commissions of inquiry, which could give the impression of merely kicking the can down the road, postponing things, or a reluctance...

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