The Zondo Commisson of Inquiry into State Capture live streams have drawn the crowds, a lot like the televised murder trial of Oscar Pistorius in 2014. South Africans have been captivated by the finer details of how corruption on a grand scale was pulled off in the Jacob Zuma era. The hearings, which have cost taxpayers not far off R1bn, have unearthed astonishing tales of deceit and drama, with Judge Raymond Zondo himself at the centre of the soap opera when Zuma accused him of not being impartial. But Zondo has stood his ground, exposing for all to see the institutionalised corruption across state entities. Chuck Stephens argues that Judge Zondo is a hero who is likely to gain mythical proportions long after the key has turned in jail cell doors for many who must surely be successfully prosecuted for crimes as a result of the irrefutable evidence against them delivered in the public domain. – Jackie Cameron
Zondo the Dragon-Slayer
By Chuck Stephens*
The UK has Jack the Giant-Killer. Scandinavia has Beowulf. Israel has King David who slew his tens of thousands – including Goliath. The USA has Johnny Appleseed. Canada has Big Joe Mufferaw. Iraq has Daniel who spent a night in the lions den, and Iran and Esther who saved her Jewish people from destruction. Australia has Crocodile Dundee and China has Jackie Chan. I think you get the drift?
Judge Raymond Zondo is our champion. Let there be no mistake – he will go down in history as the commissioner who slayed State Capture. As history evolves into myth over long periods of time, South African folklore will be filled with Tales of Zondo. He has done us proud.
A few words come to mind as we think back over his handling of the Zondo Commission… unrelenting… dignified… polite… tireless… courageous… soft-spoken… hard-hitting.
His days in the spotlight are ending soon. The three-month extension that he was granted is waning fast. Soon he will have to move from the microphone to the keyboard. His final report is due on June 30th 2021.
The last big inquest report we remember was from the Seriti Commission. It lacked credibility. Everyone knew that it was cooking the books, so to speak. It has now been discredited – even set aside. Willie Seriti was apparently for sale. His finding were eventually set aside in 2019 – it was a smoke screen to protect a shady ex-president. The Arms Deal Saga is only coming to trial this year at long last.
But the Zondo Commission has been clean. Those same gaslighters who tainted the Seriti Commission now want to tarnish Zondo’s name, but no one is buying that revisionism. Zondo is a keeper. He is 100 percent credible. Those who question his integrity are only doing so out of self-preservation.
As usual – our Judiciary and Ombuds service are putting Quality first. That makes Justice Minister Ronald Lamola happy. However, they are big spender, so Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has closed the door to any additional funding.
Worse yet, our Judiciary knows nothing about Timing. They don’t realize yet that “justice delayed is justice denied”. Cases keep going on and on and on ad nauseum. Even Zondo is on his second extension – and way over cost budget too. But budgeting time seems to be unknown to the judges.
Chess players are taught to play beside an egg-timer. They make a move on the chess board, then turn over the egg-timer. Their opponent has to make a decision before the time is up – or bust. We need to put egg-times on all the benches in our courts. Scales are great, sure, but they need egg-timers too.
A vote of thanks to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Hamba kahle, babe dragon-slayer!
- Chuck Stephens is Executive Director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership and writes in his own capacity.
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