Lindiwe Mazibuko and State Capture – A puzzling intervention.

Max Boqwana and Siyabulela Gebe

June 13, 2016

The June 9, 2016 edition of Business Day carried an article by Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko entitled ‘Mbeki mistrust sparked off institutional capture’.

It is difficult to understand why Ms Mazibuko elected to intervene in the current national discussion on state capture in the manner she did in this article, arguing that former President Mbeki initiated this malaise.

Former President Mbeki served in our country’s Presidency from 1994 to 2008.

During the period in which he served as Deputy President and President the successive National Executives did everything necessary to help establish the many new State institutions prescribed by our Constitution.

At no point did our Constitutional Court intervene to rule that the establishment of any of these institutions violated the Constitution.

In our recollection there were two exceptions in this regard.

The first was when AZAPO and others approached the Constitutional Court to challenge the TRC Act. The Court ruled against this intervention.

The second was when the Constitutional Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the Special Investigation Unit to be headed by a Judge. The Government acted immediately to implement the Court decision.

Throughout these years, 1994 to 2008, the political party to which Ms Mazibuko belongs never made any intervention to challenge the legality of any of the actions taken by the administrations in which former President Mbeki served as it worked to establish the required State institutions.

With unequalled arrogance Ms Mazibuko now poses as the great defender of the authority and oversight role of the very same institutions which former President Mbeki helped to establish, including by presenting to Parliament the Bills which, when approved by Parliament, governed the functioning of these institutions.

She tries desperately to argue that even as former President Mbeki was working to establish the institutions of which Ms Mazibuko now poses as a great defender, he was simultaneously working to undermine the very same institutions.

In this regard she mentions Parliament, the SABC and the media in general.

We have no idea about her understanding of how Parliaments in democratic countries work. However, to explain what she means when she says former President Mbeki treated Parliament a ‘rubber stamp’, she would have to show how the Administrations in which former President Mbeki served intervened to ensure that Parliament acted in violation of the Constitution.

She would also have to show what decisions of Parliament the then National Executives ignored in order to centralise power in the Union Buildings, even as those same National Executives submitted all their Bills to Parliament, which has the sole Constitutional power to transform these into Law.

She would also have to explain why it was only when Mr Mbeki became President that the practice started requiring the President regularly to account to Parliament by answering questions in Parliament, a practice which did not exist during the period of the Nelson Mandela Presidency.

It was during the period when former President Mbeki served in the National Executive that the necessary legislation was tabled by the National Executive in and approved by Parliament, which ensured that the SABC was confirmed as a Public Broadcaster.

Ms Mazibuko will have to demonstrate how the SABC, during the period when former President Mbeki was in Government, violated the relevant legislation and the attendant SABC policy, which period includes when Peter Matlare and the late Zwelake Sisulu served in the leadership of the SABC.

It is obvious that with regard to the media in general, Ms Mazibuko will have to familiarise herself with the various interactions which took place between the National Executives in which former President Mbeki served and especially SANEF, thus to understand something about the then Government-Media relations.

She will also have to inform herself about the extensive relations that existed between the then Government and the Media.

The very narrow matter that has been raised more recently with regard to the issue of state capture has concerned the relationship of one commercial company with the current Government.

Instead of wrongly straying into all manner of irrelevant matters, it would have made more sense if Ms Mazibuko had focused on presenting such information as she might have, to demonstrate how the Governments in which former President Mbeki served set a precedent by allowing the Government to be captured perhaps by one company, and, possibly, also by the corporate sector as a whole.

The matter of possible state capture by the corporate sector, whether by individual or many corporations, is very important in terms of the critically important defence of our Constitutional Democracy.

It is of vital importance that this matter is pursued seriously, to end such state capture immediately, if it is established that this capture is indeed real.

At another and related level it is also very necessary that our country examines and combats state capture by all other particular interests in our society, including political parties and individuals in these parties, if this compromises the ability of any State institution fully to discharge its obligations as defined by Statute and the Constitution.

We wonder whose interests and what purpose Ms Mazibuko serves when she, reported as a Resident Fellow of the (US) Harvard Institute of Politics, intervenes in the vitally important national discussion about State Capture in our country, which has begun, by wrongly and inexplicably raising matters whose presentation only seeks to divert attention away from the strategic matters at issue.


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