AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
ADVOCATE Vuyani Ngalwana, one of South Africa leading legal minds and an acting-judge in the high court, has called for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to be called to testify before the Zondo Commission about his role, when he was deputy president, in state capture.
Ngalwana has written to the chairperson of the Commission, Deputy Judge President to make a case why Ramaphosa should be invited to testify. He has also called for Kgalema Motlanthe, a former deputy president to Zuma, to also be asked some questions at the commission.
The acting-judge also expressed a view that in addition to Ramaphosa and Motlanthe, the then members of Zuma’s cabinet should also be invited to testify about their role during Zuma’s role, 2009 to 2018, a period he said was referred to as “nine wasted years”.
Ngalwana also made the case for Pravin Gordhan, the current Public Enterprises Minister and former Finance Minister, to also be invited to testify, particularly because much of the testimony at the Zondo commission revolved around alleged corruption at state-owned entities.
Ngalwana wrote: “Many State-Owned Enterprises are, by government’s own account, a financial and governance shambles and are, according to media reports, riddled with corruption involving tenders of considerable amounts of money. Much of this is in the public domain having been reported in the media over many years. According to a minute released by The Presidency on 25 August 2016, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa (then Deputy-President) was appointed Chair of Pres Zuma’s Inter- Ministerial Committee (“IMC”) which was “responsible for overseeing the stabilisation and reform of state-owned entities”. Surely, the President should now be called by the Commission to account for his role in the decimation of state-owned entities, particularly on what his interventions were to “stabilise and reform” these entities during his tenure as Chair of Pres Zuma’s IMC on state-owned enterprises, and where, in his assessment, the failures and successes of his efforts lie.
“There have been allegations of people being appointed to state-owned enterprises’ board positions, and others being awarded contracts of considerable value, allegedly as a result of their financial contributions to the President’s election campaign in December 2017. Are these allegations true or false? Will a bare denial of these allegations suffice for the Commission? Documents that could possibly serve as evidence of contributors to the President’s election campaign remain sealed from public scrutiny by court order. I am informed that a court challenge to that decision has been mounted and that papers have already been prepared. But does the Commission not require that evidence in order to satisfy itself that there is no truth in these troubling allegations?
“I also refer herewith a complaint in relation to Eskom that I referred to the Public Protector on 5 June 2020 but which I suspect that office may not have the financial resources to investigate since its budget has reportedly been reduced significantly. I ask that the Commission invites the Eskom Chief Executive, its entire board and the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Minister of Minerals and Energy, the President and other officials who, as reflected in the complaint, may shed light on the issues raised therein, to answer to the questions that arise in that complaint. The only aspect in that complaint with which the Commission need not trouble itself is the application to court to have the directors declared delinquent, although the Commission has the power to recommend that such application (which is in fact action proceedings) be brought. These are just some of the serious questions that the Zuma cabinet, or at least senior cabinet members, ought to be called to answer.”
Ngalwana requested that should Zondo decide not to grant his request, he should provide reasons for that decision.
He said the answers to the questions he has posed would provide the clarity needed by South Africans.
“Without clarity on these issues South Africans with the good of the country at heart cannot move forward with a clear conscience that corruption is a thing of the past, and that the serving President is free from the influences of big business.
“Should the Chair decide not to acquiesce in my request, I ask that written reasons for that decision be provided within a reasonable time of that decision being made so that I can consider my options, and ultimately included in the final report that the Chair will present to the President so that if the matter should become litigious, time and effort of procuring reasons is saved and an expeditious determination of any review application is facilitated,” he said.