JOHANNESBURG: Despite allegations against them, the president will wait for Zondo inquiry report.
South Africa’s president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that the state capture inquiry report will be the only “final guide” to act against those found to have participated in the state capture project.
Even if the report, which is yet to be finalised, is, as expected, taken on judicial review and thus muddying the waters, Mr Ramaphosa is happy to keep the likes of former State Security Agency (SSA) head, Mr Arthur Fraser and former intelligence minister and deputy minister of Water and Sanitation, Mr David Mahlobo, until he has seen the inquiry’s report and weighed it up.
Mr Ramaphosa told this to the Zondo commission of inquiry during his final appearance on Thursday.
He faced a grilling on the collapse of the SSA during the presidency of Mr Jacob Zuma when he was a deputy president of the country between 2014 until 2018.
Among those accused as leading enablers of the collapse, at least according to the high-level review panel appointed by Mr Ramaphosa in 2018, were Mr Fraser and Mr Mahlobo.
Mr Fraser was the last spy boss under Mr Zuma at the Union Buildings, while Mr Mahlobo was the political principal for the SSA between 2014 and 2017.
In addition to their implication in the high-level review panel report, the duo have further been fingered by several witnesses who have appeared at the Zondo inquiry since its inception.
Mr Mahlobo is now deputy minister of water and sanitation, while Mr Fraser is the head of the Correctional Services boss in the country, both appointed by Mr Ramaphosa.
Head of the commission’s evidence leaders Mr Paul Pretorius SC said it was puzzling for Mr Ramaphosa, of “clean up” fame, to have somehow elected not to touch Mr Mahlobo and Mr Fraser, even when a report of a structure he commissioned placed them at the crime scene.
Mr Pretorius fired the first question on Mr Mahlobo: “Would he be the person, with that series of allegations concerning him in the public domain, to be appointed deputy minister in May 2019 despite the findings against him?”
Mr Ramaphosa replied: “Much of what the commission is doing and will make findings will be, in my view, the final guide on how we will be able to deal with persons and in this regard I want to wait for the commission report.”
Mr Pretorius pressed him, arguing that the central question was why did Ramaphosa appoint Mr Mahlobo and Mr Fraser in the first place despite their alleged role in the pillaging of state security.
Mr Ramaphosa stuck to his guns, saying the inquiry report would guide him on how to handle Mr Mahlobo and Mr Fraser.
“I have been waiting for a more full and complete picture, which this commission is going to assist me with, to make a fuller determination. In a way, whether my judgment is found to be flawed or not, I decided to wait for this process [the state capture inquiry] to complete,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
Mr Ramaphosa repeated for the third time that the commission report would determine what course of action to take. His testimony continues on his final day.