President Jacob Zuma shocked the country last night when he appointed a commission of inquiry into State Capture.
It’s clear to see he is feeling the heat, and much like his free university announcement it smacks of desperation, but what follows will be one of the biggest probes in South African political history.
Given how deep State Capture seems to run, it’s vital that the man at the top commands the public’s respect. That man is Raymond Zondo, and Huff Post SA have a profile on him that makes for interesting reading.
Zondo is the second most powerful judge in the country, behind only Chief justice Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, which is a far cry from his humble beginnings.
Firstly, some good news:
In its submissions to the Judicial Service Commission for appointments to the Constitutional Court in 2012, the General Council of the Bar (GCB) found that Zondo “enjoys a reputation for integrity and ethical behaviour”, something that will be imperative in getting to the bottom of allegations surrounding state capture.
Integrity and ethics – probably won’t get on with JZ, then.
Secondly, six quick points about Zondo:
- Zondo was born in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal in 1960. He holds a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand and two LLMs from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Unisa.
- In his interview for the deputy chief justice post, Zondo described his impoverished upbringing, recalling how he approached a local businessman for a monthly loan to purchase groceries for his family while he was studying towards his degree.
- Zondo has a 20-year tenure in the courts, first being appointed to the Labour Court in 1997. He quickly ascended the ranks to become Judge President of the Labour Appeal Court and the Labour Court in 2000, a position he served in for 10 years. In 2011, Zondo served in an acting role as a judge in the Constitutional Court for one year until his position was made permanent. In 2017, Zuma chose Zondo to replace the retired Dikgang Moseneke as deputy chief justice.
- There is little scandal surrounding him. In 2007, Moneyweb reported that questions had been raised in Parliament about the appropriateness of transport and living allowances Zondo received in his capacity as Judge President of the Labour Court. It was alleged he was paid R1,275,493 in transport and living allowances over a five-year period on top of his salary.
- He has also been criticised for being slow to deliver judgment. In the GCB’s submissions, the report stated that there have been instances where judgments written by Zondo were handed down more than 12 months after appeals were argued.
- However, the same report found that Zondo had, through his repeated references to Constitutional Court judgments and constitutional principles, “displayed a firm commitment to advancing the cause of a constitutional state founded on constitutional principles”.
I think we can all agree that the R1,3 million spent on transport and living will be well worth the price if he can root out such blatant criminality in the highest office of the land.
You know who’s very stoked, don’t you? It’s only South Africa’s favourite Thuli Madonsela. Below from News24:
“I welcome the president’s announcement. It is two years too late, if you look at when the first whistle-blowing happened, and more than a year after I had asked him to establish a commission. But better late than never,” Madonsela said.
Madonsela says although evidence may have been compromised, the situation “can still be salvaged”…
We all know that legal battles with JZ and his cronies tend to drag on – and on and on – but hopefully Zondo and his team can soon start holding our crooks accountable.
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