State Capture

ANC state capture danger deepens under NEC compromise

Gwede Mantashe, ANC secretary general

A compromise in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), packaged in a dust-cloud of many mostly apparently meaningless words, saved President Jacob Zuma yet again.

However, at closer scrutiny, it emerges that there are some serious dangers lurking in that compromise, which could even broaden and deepen the problem of ‘state capture’ it purport to address.

In his statement following the weekends NEC meeting, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, amongst other said: ”Government itself encourages judicial overreach when it fails to lead when it should.”

Apart from other matters, like the mess surrounding Eskom CEO Brain Molefe and the board of the public broadcaster (SABC), it is also provides the background against which his statement of the ANC’s sudden acceptance of a proposal for the  establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry into allegations of state capture “without delay,” should be judged.

It is, for starters, important to note that nowhere in the statement is there any reference made to the recommendation by the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, in her report on state capture, for such a commission.

What is rather forwarded as reason for the call is “the proposal that was tabled in the (ANC”s own) Political Report for the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry …”

And, herein lies the rub. We are likely headingf or a re-run of what happened with the Seriti Commission of inquiry into the controversial weapons deal, appointed in 2011, which in the words of the South African Communist Party, “nog al,” turned out to be a “whitewash.”

 Don’t expect commission too soon

As reported earlier in the week, there might be some merit in Mr Zuma’s argument that there is a problem with the terms for a judicial commission of enquiry into the issue of state capture, as formulated by the previous Public Protector.

The core of his objection is that the appointment of a commission of inquiry by the Chief Justice (CJ), undermines the separation of powers doctrine. And, with hindsight, maybe she should have formulated her recommendation slightly differently – left the appointment of the commission itself to the president and only the appointment of the chairperson to the CJ.

Nevertheless, from the NEC statement of Monday it is clear that the ANC will be using this gap to the maximum to possibly delay the appointment of such a commission of inquiry, and to influence its terms of reference to create deflections from a pure focus on problems associated with the ANC and Mr Zuma’s leadership.

First up it is stated that the “terms of reference of such Commission of Enquiry must be broad enough to uncover the influence of business on the state,” opening up the door to include “white monopoly capital” in the terms of reference.

At the media briefing accompanying the statement’s release, it was also suggested that the inquiry should include the period pre-dating 1994.

While no-one suggests that the relationship between government and business was always squeaky clean before 1994, it begs the question what it has to do with the present situation, and the position off business people like the Gupta family, which is in the eye of the present storm.

Secondly, the NEC “expressed its desire to see all processes of reviewing the Public Protector’s State of Capture report accelerated so that they are not an obstacle to the speedy establishment of the Judicial Commission into State Capture.”

This brings a number of issues, from Mr Zuma’s  objections to a number of other ongoing judicial and semi-judicial processes linked to the state capture issue, into play. These could potentially be used as excuses to delay the introduction ,or appointment, of a full-blown judicial commission of inquiry.

Also read: Zuma must go to deal with state capture

The real danger

The core danger, and at the heart of the problem, as we have argued before, is that this approach might offer an opportunity to the ANC to deepen and broaden its own long running and well documented (in Strategy & Tactics documents since the 1980s), strategy of capturing of “all centres of state power.”

The net result is that, what happened at the NEC meeting will see Mr Zuma in the presidency at least until the party’s elective conference in December of this year. It might also have set things up for somewhat of a repeat performance of what happened at the 2007 elective conference in Polokwane where Mr Zuma was elected as ANC leader.

State capture might change hands, but the core danger of party political domination of “all centres of state power” will remain in place – at least until the national general election scheduled for 2019.

And, if the ANC is replaced as government in 2019, there will still be a long and challenging battle ahead to undone all the damage done by the deliberate ANC strategy of state capture.

by Piet Coetzer

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