Judicial commissions of inquiry under President Jacob Zuma have cost taxpayers more than R300-million.
The spiralling costs come ahead of yet another inquiry, this time into state capture, as ordered by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
She recommended in her “State of Capture” report that an inquiry be established to investigate allegations that the Gupta family had influence on the state and that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng appoint a judge to head the commission.
Her report revealed Zuma had failed to act on claims the Guptas might have known about Des van Rooyen’s appointment as finance minister before Nhlanhla Nene was fired from the post in December.
Inquiries under Zuma’s presidency have included probes into the arms deal, Marikana massacre, higher education and training and tertiary fees and the fitness of former national police commissioners Bheki Cele and Riah Phiyega to hold office.
The Marikana inquiry cost taxpayers R153-million. The arms deal inquiry cost R137.2-million, followed by the commission of inquiry into higher education and training, which was allocated R40-million to investigate the cost of tertiary education in South Africa.
Paul Hoffman, director of public interest litigation group, Accountability Now, said the inquiry into state capture was a waste of money.
He said Madonsela’s report had “prima facie evidence of corruption” that should be tested in the criminal justice system.
“What Madonsela does not say is she does not trust the [National Prosecuting Authority] and the [corruption-busting unit] Hawks to do a proper job on the investigation and prosecution of the case.”
Hoffman said the judge who would head the proposed inquiry could either choose to make the inquiry long and drawn out, or just analyse the report and say who must be charged.
“If the judge chooses to call witnesses then we are in for a long and expensive process. The judge can make it short and less expensive by saying Zuma refused to answer questions, so he must answer questions in the dock.”
Zuma can still take the report on legal review.