Over the coming days and weeks, from hashtags, to homes, to the halls of Parliament, South Africans from all walks of life will be debating government’s response to the findings and recommendations of the State Capture Commission.
I considered it a significant duty on Saturday, 22 October 2022, to submit to Parliament government’s response to the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
I made this submission nearly six years to the month after former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela released her ‘State of Capture’ report, in which she investigated complaints of alleged unethical conduct by several state functionaries and private individuals and companies.
The Public Protector’s report gave rise to the establishment of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry [into Allegations of State Capture] chaired by the then Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
During four years of public hearings, our nation was saddened, outraged and left in disbelief by testimony of how a criminal network in government, public institutions and private companies had raided state coffers and vandalised institutions of our democracy.
Amid the depressing testimony, people’s anger at the events that had unfolded and citizens’ demands for consequences, retribution and restoration, was a clear signal that South Africans are prepared to fight to preserve their values.
Upon closer consideration, the process of uncovering crimes against our democracy gave us more reason for hope than despair.
The reactions of the overwhelming majority of South Africans highlighted the nation’s disdain for corruption and our determination that corruption and unethical corporate or public management will not be allowed to define us as a nation.
The country has drawn strength from the courage with which whistleblowers came forward to tell their stories and bring perpetrators of state capture to justice.
This process also revealed that in spite of sustained assaults by the architects and practitioners of state capture on key national institutions, we could depend on our criminal justice system to catch up with those who thought themselves untouchable.
Almost daily now, we read reports of people being arrested and appearing in court on charges related to state capture. We read about misappropriated assets being frozen and property being seized.
The scenes that are unfolding in our courts today are because investigators and prosecutors are living up their professional obligations and the expectations of the nation they serve.
In compliance with an order of the judiciary, the executive branch of the state has now submitted a response plan to the legislature, as further evidence of the good and growing health of our democratic dispensation.
While we prosecute state capture suspects and recover stolen funds, what is required on the part of all South Africans is our conscious, daily examination of our own values, beliefs and behaviours and the motives and actions of others.
The recently established National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council will play an important part in mobilising all sectors of our society towards the attainment of a country defined by integrity, honesty and accountability.
Following the submission of our response to the State Capture Commission, government is poised to work with social partners and communities on this great undertaking, which will be passed on from generation to generation into our future.
This moment of renewal is upon us and urges us to restate the vision of our National Development Plan of “a South Africa that has zero tolerance for corruption, in which an empowered citizenry has the confidence and knowledge to hold public and private officials to account and in which leaders hold themselves to high ethical standards, and act with integrity”.
We have made great progress in the fight against state capture, all due to the efforts of the people of South Africa. The path ahead will be challenging, but if we work together in implementing the recommendations of the State Capture Commission, we will succeed in building the society and the state that we want.