Is state capture real?

Mcebisi Jonas.

When I left he said they have information on me, and if I ever suggested this meeting had taken place, I would be killed.

“The torture I was subjected to brought back memories of when I was arrested and tortured by the Boers in 1988. The facial twitches I developed then, came back under this treatment by the minister (Faith Muthambe).”

If you’ve been following the state capture inquiry – which certainly makes far more interesting and compelling viewing than did the Oscar Pistorius trial – you’ll have heard former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas calmly delivering the sentence, allegedly delivered to him by Ajay Gupta after a meeting at the by now notorious Saxonwold compound, which set the tone for the rest of the inquiry, no matter how long it endures.

Later, when then acting director-general Pumla Williams took the stand, and described her treatment at the hands of then Communications Minister Faith Muthambe, she broke down and sobbed. Commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had to postpone proceedings so that Ms Williams could gather herself before proceeding with her testimony.

There has, of course, been much more, and with the inquiry set to take something like two years, there is a great deal more to come.

Aside from the Gupta brothers being implicated at every turn, so too do the names Duduzane Zuma and Jacob Zuma emerge as frequently, as being allegedly complicit in the wholesale pillaging of the public purse for private gain.

Quite naturally, all those implicated have hit back, labelling the proceedings, along with the parallel inquiry into SARS, as politically motivated, devoid of any truth and complete fabrications.

Messrs Duduzane Zuma and the Gupta brothers, none of whom have yet been called to testify, have demanded the right to cross-examine the witnesses who have implanted them, and Justice Zondo is legally obliged to hear those requests.

If this sounds familiar, it should. While concluding her masterful report into state capture, then public protector, Thuli Madonsela, met with then president, Jacob Zuma, and his lawyer, Michael Hulley, affording Mr Zuma the opportunity to effectively cross-examine her about the recommendations in her draft report. But despite grilling Ms Madonsela for four hours, it was to no avail. She changed nothing in her report, and the eventual outcome is unfolding right now on our TV screens.

The idea behind cross-examination, is to trip up a witness who is delivering false testimony, and this is an accepted tactic in any legal proceeding, but cross-examination can be a double-edged sword. The commission’s legal team has advised Justice Zondo that it will be asking that those who want to cross-examine witnesses, be compelled to submit themselves to cross-examination by those who they wish to cross-examine, which should make for fascinating viewing.

Justice Zondo announced on Monday afternoon that he would hear applications to cross-examine witnesses today, Wednesday September 5.

Those implicated thus far, and doubtless more that will follow as further testimony unfolds, would have us believe, that despite the damning evidence heard thus far, and the equally damning #GuptaLeaks, this is all a pack of lies, cooked up by white monopoly capital to wrongfully incriminate previously disadvantaged people from pursuing radical socio-economic transformation. It follows therefore, that Mr Jonas, Vytjie Mentor, Themba Maseko and Ms Williams are all agents of white monopoly capital, and that their testimony is little more than a carefully constructed pack of lies, that will disintegrate under cross-examination. But what are the chances that there is even a kernel of truth in this allegation?

Based on what has transpired in just the first week of testimony, the likes of former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Browne, Ms Muthambe, former Government Communication and Information Service head Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, and former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe are likely be called to appear before the commission, as they have all been implicated thus far.

Rather, what is becoming clear, is the extent to which state institutions, governance structures, and even some of our chapter nine institutions have been suborned in pursuit of private gain, at the expense of the country at large.

Ms Madonsela was pursued by the Hawks at one stage while she was conducting her inquiry, as were Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg over the by now discredited allegation of having run a rogue unit in SARS during Mr Gordhan’s time as SARS commissioner.

The parallel Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS under Tom Moyane’s stewardship is delivering damning testimony about how that critical institution was literally hollowed out to serve the interests of the powerful and connected, and chances are that the contentious R70 million VAT refund to the Gupta-owned Oak Bay Resources, processed illegally through a third party’s bank account, will cause the state capture inquiry to place Mr Moyane under its microscope as well.

But there is one question that does not appear on any agenda. How is it possible that all of this was going on, without the entire executive, the ANC NEC and the NWC, being aware of what was happening? And more importantly, will this question ever be asked and answered?