Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

“When we talk about issues, particularly one issue that has been the big elephant in our room, which is State capture. We should welcome the decision of the NEC of the ANC. This matter was discussed and it was announced that the NEC supports the establishment of a judicial inquiry into allegations of State capture. That is an important decision,” Ramaphosa addressed a gathering of the Cosatu central committee in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“The ANC wants this decision to be implemented. It doesn’t want this decision to be put at the bottom of the cupboard. It must be implemented because this State capture issue is busy eating the African National Congress away.

“To prevent these stories we keep hearing, of emails and all these things coming out of the woodwork all the time, the appointment of Brian Molefe and so on, the commission must commence its work and it must have terms of reference that go the depths of what this issue is.”

Ramaphosa emphasised that he was personally supportive of the highly punted investigation.

“One of the reasons why I support this decision … we want people to clear their names. We want the truth to free us. We want the African National Congress to return to its core business. The ANC must go back to what it was formed for. We must stop fighting side struggles and fighting one another,” Ramaphosa said to applause.

“That commission must be established, come what may. It is also important that the terms of reference of that commission should allow for a thorough in depth investigation of the extent of undue influence from whatever quarter on the institutions of the State.”

On Monday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who was present as Ramaphosa addressed the Cosatu event on Tuesday, announced that the national executive committee wants a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of State capture by the controversial Gupta family.

Mantashe said although the NEC did not discuss the Public Protector’s damning “State of Capture” report at the weekend, the meeting agreed that President Jacob Zuma establish the inquiry to look into allegations of state capture after the dawn of democracy.

“The terms of reference of such commission of inquiry must be broad enough to uncover the influence of business on the State,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.

“The state capture issue goes further deeper than what is in the Public Protector report. The NEC agreed that the inquiry should start beyond 1994, and questions were raised whether it should also probe the 1948 era. It was agreed that a separate inquiry can be established for that period if the need arises.”

Last week, Zuma’s office denied reports that he was against the implementation of the Public Protector’s remedial actions, including establishment of a commission of inquiry.

The Presidency said Zuma was of the view that some of the remedial actions directed were irregular, unlawful and unconstitutional.

“Legal advice obtained pointed at the fact that the remedial action on the appointment of a commission of inquiry undermines the separation of powers doctrine. The Constitution gives the power to appoint a commission of inquiry to the President, which she/he must exercise when the President holds a view that a matter of public concern requires such a process,” Zuma’s office said at the time.

The weekend National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the highest decision making body in the governing party, saw Zuma survive a second attempt to force him to step down. A defiant Zuma, backed by his supporters, reportedly told the NEC that the branches of the ANC elected him and that only they could remove him.

The ANC NEC meeting took place this weekend against the backdrop of the most damning newspaper reports – based on a series of emails – yet against Zuma’s controversial friends, the Gupta family. The emails revealed the business family’s influence on the state allegedly through Zuma and his son Duduzane.

According to Sunday newspaper reports, Zuma and the wealthy family had come up with an exit plan for the President and his family to settle in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Zuma has dismissed the suggestions as unfounded.