Perhaps it is not so much that former president Jacob Zuma has set the bar low for his walkouts and no-shows at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, but rather that Msholozi and others following in his footsteps fear retribution and being held accountable, says an analyst.
The commission’s credibility has recently been under scrutiny after an audio clip of ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was leaked to the public.
In the two minute and 20 second clip, Duarte can be heard questioning the scope of investigations conducted by the commission and its treatment of Zuma.
She said the commission had appeared to have evolved into a court of law and was no longer a judicial commission of inquiry.
Discrediting the commission
Political Futures Consultancy director and political analyst Daniel Silke told The Citizen on Thursday that it seemed like “there was an effort to discredit the commission” as it slowly approaches its end in June.
“As we move closer to the end of the commission and the real possibility of some of the bigger names facing legal consequences… you have seen a pushback from Zuma for example.
“It would seem as though as there is an effort to discredit the Zondo commission as it also moves to uncover some of the issues relating to the bigger names. It was always about the bigger names…. it was always about Zuma and perhaps others as well,” he said.
Commenting on Zuma facing the possibility of being jailed, Silke further said that he would not be surprised if the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) implemented a suspended sentence.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ConCourt come up with some sort of suspended sentence or some sort of fine on the matter rather than an actual physical prison term.
“A prison term can be extremely divisive and can create all sorts of tensions for the ANC not that it wouldn’t be the same if there was a fine, but clearly the images of Zuma having to be escorted to prison is something that ANC would like to avoid certainly under the divisive circumstances,” he said.
His comment comes after Zuma missed the deadline to make representations to the ConCourt outlining how he wants to be censured should he be found guilty of contempt of court.
The former president slammed the commission, saying it was spreading “political propaganda” against him, and that Zondo was attempting to “turn all narratives against me into evidence”.
Last month President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the growing factionalism in the ANC after several structures including the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), and the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal publicly backed Zuma in his defiance of the commission.
Meanwhile, another giant within the ANC, Ace Magashule, who is facing 21 charges of fraud and corruption, is under pressure to step down from his position after the party’s national executive committee (NEC) resolved last month that the secretary-general and others accused of criminal wrongdoing should step aside within 30 days.
The analyst added that it would be “awkward” and “embarrassing” for the ANC to have to face Zuma amid everything that’s going on.
“It’s extremely awkward and embarrassing for the ANC who have to face a former president who may potentially have a prison sentence imposed on him. This is extremely divisive within the ANC as you have seen have the leaks of the top six meeting.
“Clearly there are efforts afoot within the ANC to really fight back… with Magashule largely leading that particular effort. What we are seeing is the entrenchment of factions around the issue of Zuma and of course Magashule as well.. both of them facing legal consequences and both largely representatives of the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) factions.
“We seen RET faction already mentioned by name and warned in that previous NEC meeting so I do think we are in for something of a very rough ride from within the ANC as it tries to deals with the matter,” he added.
Still work to be done
Silke further disagreed on whether the commission had run its course, saying he believes the commission had played a vital role in uncovering the allegations of corruption.
“No, I don’t think the commission has run its course. I think the lax attitude is because individuals fear retribution and this is a way of discrediting the commission.
“The commission itself has been vitally important in uncovering the wrongdoings in the state capture and related activities in recent years. Frankly, we need to have an ongoing investigation into corruption because it doesn’t just end with issues relating to Zuma or state capture,” he said.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lebake, Bernadette Wicks and News24 Wire