Zondo: Constitution should be changed to allow for direct election of president

This is just one of the far-reaching recommendations contained in volumes five and six of the final report of the State Capture commission of inquiry that he chaired.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo hands President Cyril Ramaphosa the final part of his report into state capture on Wednesday, 22 June 2022. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has recommended that the country’s Constitution be changed to allow for the president to be directly elected.

This is just one of the far-reaching recommendations contained in volumes five and six of the final report of the state capture commission of inquiry that he chaired.

He handed the volumes over to President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Wednesday night.

Zondo found the electoral system to be flawed, saying many wished to vote for the African National Congress (ANC), but did not want Jacob Zuma as president.

"How did the country end up having as president someone who would act the way President Zuma acted? Someone that could remove as good a public servant as Mr Themba Maseko from his position just so that he could put someone else into that position who would cooperate with the Guptas and give them business.

"A president who would fire the minister of finance just because his friends wanted someone else in that position who would cooperate with his friends and help them to capture the country; Treasury.

"Indeed, a president who became party to a scheme created by the Guptas to remove a number of executives from their positions at Eskom so that the Guptas could put their own associates in those positions so as to facilitate the looting of Eskom."

State Capture Commission Re... by Primedia Broadcasting

State Capture Commission Re... by Primedia Broadcasting

Zondo has also recommended a special commission of inquiry into why the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was allowed to “slide into almost total ruin”.

"Having given anxious consideration to the issues, I have decided that a special commission of inquiry be appointed to examine specifically the following matters: why Prasa was allowed to slide into almost total ruin, who should be held responsible for that and who could have benefitted from that unacceptable state of affairs."

Zondo said that "much about the ills at Prasa has not yet been uncovered".

"I worry that if I do not make a general recommendation about these matters, it is unlikely that Prasa will recover."

State Capture Commission Re... by Primedia Broadcasting

State Capture Commission Re... by Primedia Broadcasting

Among his many recommendations for further investigations, Zondo sad law enforcement agencies should investigate, with a view to the possibility of criminal charges, former spy boss Arthur Fraser, former State Security Minister David Mahlobo (now a deputy minister) and former senior spook Thulani Dlomo (now an ambassador), in relation to cash they received or that was “illegitimately handled by them”.

Zondo also recommends that the Hawks consider resuming an investigation based on an internal probe into the Principal Agent Network that Fraser set up, which was halted.

“The resumption of the investigations should be reconsidered by the Hawks. It might be whoever were involved, including Mr Fraser, get absolved, but the investigations should be allowed to take their normal course.”

Zondo said the government should consider giving the Auditor-General access to audit the secret accounts of intelligence agencies and that the Inspector-General of Intelligence should be given more access.

State Capture Commission Re... by Primedia Broadcasting

Zondo said Parliament should consider an oversight committee for the Presidency and a constituency-based electoral system that would hold the executive more accountable. He’s also suggested legislation to protect members of parliament from losing their party membership (and their seats) “for executing oversight reasonably and in good faith”.

Zondo’s also recommended the establishment of an independent agency against corruption in public procurement, which he said should be a statutory body headed by a five-member council, with an inspectorate, a litigation unit and a tribunal.

He is also recommending a professional body for procurement officials across government, who could then be struck off the roll for wrong doing.

Zondo also wants greater protection for whistleblowers. He said the government should bring new legislation or amend the law to give whistleblowers the protections conferred by the UN Convention against Corruption.

He’s also recommended the Political Party Funding Act be amended to criminalise donations in expectation of being granted tenders or contracts as a reward.

Zondo has recommended that the government should also consider making abuse of state power a crime.

“Such potential violations might range from the case of a president of the Republic who hands a large portion of the national wealth… to an unauthorised recipient, to the junior official who suspends a colleague out of motives of envy or revenge.”

He suggested a fine of up to R200 million, or imprisonment of up to 20 years, or both.