Oakbay Investments legal advisor Gert van der Merwe has welcomed former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into state capture and the appointment of a judicial commission of inquiry.
“My client has noted the former public protector’s report on state capture and her recommendations. My client welcomes her recommendations on the establishment of a commission of inquiry. This will give us the opportunity to once and for all clear our name,” Van der Merwe said.
“We will need more time to study Ms Madonsela’s fairly voluminous report. Our cursory reading of it shows the evidence gathered is riddled with errors and is subject to rebuttal. For instance, the evidence about the Optimum mine rehabilitation fund is flawed. And Mr Ajay Gupta never met with Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas or Vytjie Mentor. My client now awaits the opportunity to present evidence and responses to the judicial commission of inquiry.”
In the long awaited report released yesterday, Madonsela recommends President Jacob Zuma appoint a judicial commission of inquiry to bring finality to the matter which has split the ANC and the government.
The North Gauteng High Court ordered the release of the report following Zuma’s withdrawal of an interdict application that sought to prevent its release.
Explaining the reasons for withdrawing the application, the presidency said in a statement: “When the application was launched, it was not clear whether the investigation was finalised. The public protector has since clarified that the report was signed and finalised by the former public protector on October 14, 2016.
“The Constitution provides that everyone has the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. In the interests of justice and a speedy resolution of the matter, the president decided to withdraw his application. The president will give consideration to the contents of the report in order to ascertain whether it should be a subject of a court challenge.”
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who is also implicated in the report, said that he would respond today.
The ANC also said in a statement that the party would respond today.
Madonsela recommended in her remedial actions that Zuma appoints within 30 days a commission of inquiry, which should be headed by a judge and have the same powers to collect evidence as enjoyed by the public protector.
The commission must report back to him within 180 days. Zuma must submit a copy with an indication of his intentions regarding the implementation of the findings to Parliament within 14 days of releasing the report.
Parliament has also been ordered to review within 180 days the Executive Members’ Ethics Act to provide better guidance on integrity, including the avoidance and management of conflict of interest.
“This should clearly define responsibilities of those in authority regarding a proper response to whistle-blowing and whistle-blowers. Consideration should also be given to a transversal code of conduct for employees of the state.”
Zuma has also been ordered to ensure that the executives ethics code is updated in line with the review of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act.
In her recommendations Madonsela said the commission should be led by a judge, who would have the power to appoint his own staff.
This judge would also have the power to investigate all the issues using the record of Madonsela’s investigation and report as a starting point. This judge must be selected by chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. The chief justice must furnish the name of this judge to the president.
Mandonsela recommended Zuma, in conjunction with the national Treasury, should ensure the commission was adequately resourced.
Newly appointed public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane must in terms of section 6 (4) (c) (i) of the Public Protector Act bring to the notice of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations those matters identified in Mandonsela’s report where it appeared that crimes were committed.
Madonsela said in her executive summary she had examined if Zuma improperly and in violation of the executive ethics code had allowed members of the Gupta family or his son to be involved in the removal and appointment of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.
She said it was worrying that the Gupta family was aware or might have been aware that former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was to be removed six weeks after Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas had advised him that the Gupta family had allegedly offered him the job in exchange for extending favours to their family business.
Equally worrying, she said, was that Minister Des van Rooyen, who had replaced Nene, could be placed in the Saxonworld area on seven occasions, including the day before he was made finance minister.
“This looks anomalous,” she said.
Dennis Cruywagen and Dudu Dube