In the past fortnight, significant developments concerning state capture have emerged, unveiling the deceit and falsehoods that have long been woven into the narrative. It is as though a spotlight has been shone onto a previously shadowy stage, finally revealing the reality behind the state capture. These recent revelations are akin to a floodgate bursting open, poised to uncover the political drama that has played out on the national stage. Ultimately, the truth, like an untamed stallion, runs free, refusing to be subdued, and emerges when least expected.

By Mbangwa Xaba

The case of former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, who faced charges of fraud, corruption, and money laundering, was recently struck off the court roll by the Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. This development has exposed a complex network of deceit that was concealed behind a cloak of political manipulation.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Stanley Jacobs delivered a significant blow to the state capture narrative by dismissing the case of fraud, corruption, and money laundering in the R2.2bn Kusile case, which implicated Matshela Koko.

Jacobs emphasised the imperative for the NPA to rectify its internal affairs, highlighting the indispensable role of NPA director advocate Shamila Batohi in endorsing the charge sheet.

This event marked the most significant occurrence in a sequence of revelations that have unveiled the deception within the deteriorating state capture narrative over the past two weeks. The intricately woven fabric of the state-capture narrative in South Africa has begun to unravel in plain sight.

The aftermath of this situation reveals an intricate web of deception, orchestrated propaganda, and strategic manoeuvring that shamelessly upholds the ideology of white supremacy, while a privileged few exploit the state’s resources and the economy as a whole.

The Zondo Commission, a meticulously orchestrated spectacle, touted to the public as a crusade against corruption, has proven to be nothing more than a discredited endeavour, despite its exorbitant price tag of over R1 billion.

The existence of cracks has been apparent from the beginning, but the cookie finally crumbled when, without any provocation, Zondo boldly criticised parliament and the executive for their incompetence in executing his recommendations.

This inevitably sparked a barrage of criticisms, including snide remarks by lower-ranking officials in parliament.

“Chief Justice Raymond Zondo overstepped his boundaries when he publicly made inappropriate remarks that undermined Parliament’s efforts in addressing state capture,” Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said, taking a swipe at the most senior judicial officer in the land.

A few days later, reports surfaced regarding the manipulation of rand exchange rates by banks. Twenty-eight banks were implicated in the rand fixing scandal, and the foreign-owned Standard Chartered Bank admitted guilt for the offence. A substantial profit of one trillion rands was amassed by the banks through this fraud.

Then there was the absurd and sickening prank fine of R42.7 million. It deeply unsettled me. No amount of anticipation could have adequately equipped me for the pervasive and ingrained prevalence of white supremacy and privilege within the fabric of our society.

We have not witnessed anything quite like this blatant display of white privilege in recent times. This reality has never been brought home on such a grand scale. This act borders on economic sabotage and treason. It has created a sense of economic collapse and effectively staged a subtle coup, instigating regime change. Yet, the suspects just walked away with a mere R42.7 million, a slap on the wrist.

These revelations, in part, explain why some amongst the ruling elite, including President Cyril Ramaphosa preferred that the terms of reference for the Zondo commission should be narrow, limited only to the Gupta family or former president Zuma’s alleged interference with government decision-making and procurement.

It is now abundantly clear that a deeper broader inquiry into state procurement and the state interaction with the private sector would have unpinned the biggest capturers of the state. In another, it explains why, despite acknowledging the ANC’s involvement in state capture, his own links and that of many of his colleagues in cabinet to the controversial BOSASA saga, seemed to have just evaporated into thin air.

I have come to a brutal realisation that this entire exercise came to being simply to shield the apartheid status quo. It explains South Africa’s persistent global skunk of the world status as the most unequal society.

The stark contrast between the vile humiliation of former president Jacob Zuma and the likes of Koko with the banker’s scandal is quite telling.

In the case of Koko, over and above trump-up charges, assets were confiscated, and bank accounts closed, yet the powerful white bankers have not only been protected from criminal prosecution, but they have also enjoyed swift justice that allowed them to walk away with minimal consequences.

South Africa’s state capture inquiry, under the stewardship of Zondo, was meant to be a beacon of justice, exposing corruption and holding those responsible accountable. However, as the inquiry unfolded, it became increasingly evident that the focus was disproportionately on political figures, with a conspicuous blind spot towards the principal corruptors: the private sector.

Chief Justice Zondo’s failure to delve into the depths of private sector corruption represents a missed opportunity that leaves the true culprits intact. Many companies with evergreen contracts, who allegedly siphoned state coffers, have remained untouched.

The commission seemed to turn a blind eye to these crucial players. This is one of the glaring missteps. It failed to thoroughly investigate the intricate web of corruption woven by major corporations.

Investigators from civil society group Open Secrets, say in the first two reports from the State Capture inquiry, Zondo had provided a clear list of suspects for potential prosecution, but he buckled because his treatment of corporates was inconsistent with others before him.

The private sector’s influence on political decisions and its role in state capture shouldn’t have been underestimated. By sidelining the examination of companies that allegedly engaged in corrupt practices, the commission missed a chance to uncover the full extent of the rot within the system.

Exxaro, a major player in the energy sector, allegedly benefited from favourable contracts that drained public resources. ABSA bank, a financial institution entrusted with the nation’s wealth, is accused of links with apartheid state funding, and Bidvest, a conglomerate with diverse interests, has faced allegations of impropriety in its dealings with the state. These are not isolated incidents but rather indicative of a broader trend of corporate exploitation that undermines the very fabric of South Africa’s governance.

The private sector’s influence extends beyond mere financial transactions. It involves the shaping of policies, the manipulation of markets, and the erosion of ethical standards. Ignoring these aspects in the state capture inquiry has led to a distorted narrative that scapegoats political figures while absolving powerful corporations of their role in the grand scheme of corruption.

The commission’s myopic focus on politicians, without thoroughly scrutinising the private sector, has left a critical gap in understanding the dynamics of state capture.

The shielding of some witnesses and the brutality against others have been the signature of the commission’s operations. Take President Ramaphosa’s testimony for example. It left many astonished when the head of state and ANC president who said the ANC was the number one accused easily exonerated himself from culpability. Of all the criticisms this behaviour has drawn, Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana SC’s rebuke, to the effect that “the man has no shame” just about sums it all up.

At a cost of more than a billion rand for over four years, the Zondo commission has nothing to show for this effort and cost. It was quite frankly a wasteful and fruitless expenditure. It failed in every aspect.

As the adage goes, “Every dark cloud has a silver lining,” despite all, there is hope in our judiciary with people like Magistrate Stanley Jacobs. While former President Zuma faced a staged inquiry leading to an unprecedented jail sentence for contempt of court, Koko’s case suggests a rare moment of conscience within the weaponised institutions of justice.

There is hope that one day, South Africa will have a competent judicial process and the veil on the eyes of Lady Justice will be put back so that she does not see who’s black and who’s poor.

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