The South African Communist Party (SACP), which continues to demand that President Jacob Zuma step down, on Wednesday said it welcomes his appointment of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, but warned that it would be “inappropriate” for him to decide the terms of reference.

On Tuesday evening Zuma announced the establishment of the long overdue commission of inquiry into state capture. He said the commission would be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who was recommended by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Reacting to the announcement, the SACP said it was the first to call for the commission of inquiry before it was prescribed as remedial action following an independent investigation by the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her “State of capture” report. 

It has taken nearly two years for Zuma, who is challenging the report in courts, to establish the commission.

However, after last month’s 54th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party resolved that the matter must be expedited even though  Zuma has appealed the 14 December 2017 judgment of the North Gauteng High Court ordering him to appoint the commission within 30 days. 

“The appeal was a clear contradiction of the mandate to expedite the matter. The President’s conduct delaying the appointment of the commission would have further prevailed had it not been of mounting public pressure,” said the SACP in a statement attributed to Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, head of communications and national spokesperson.   

The SACP said Zuma’s statement announcing the appointment of the commission was “silent about its specific terms reference except that it ‘must seek to uncover not just the conduct of some, but all those who may have rendered our state or parts thereof vulnerable to control by forces other than the public for which government is elected’”. 

Because the State of capture report prescribes that its contents should be the basis for the investigation, the SACP said “it would be inappropriate” for Zuma to decide the terms of reference for an investigation into allegations in which he is implicated. 

“The situation reaffirms the correctness of the March 2017 decision of the SACP that it was time for President Zuma to resign in the best interests of the ANC, the Alliance and the people of South Africa as a whole,” said the statement.

“The SACP further notes with concern the standing aspects of the appeal by the president. This could prove to be a waste of taxpayers money particularly should the appeal be dismissed.”    

– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Moses Mudzwiti