FILE - Political analysts said if there was consequence after an inquiry, maybe people would take them seriously, adding that the public wanted to see action after an inquiry finished its work. In this file photo taken on February 24, 2019, Gill Marcus, Justice Lex Mpati, Emmanuel Lediga, media and officials listen to Mondli Gungubele testifying at the Mpati Commission. File photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Speaking to Independent Media, independent political analyst Protas Madlala said commissions that were not used for political purposes were far and few between.

“Some commissions are gullible to being used to settle political scores. I don’t think they are in the majority,” Madlala said.

He made an example of the Zondo Commission which was set up by former president Jacob Zuma.

“The one started by the previous president, who was it to get? Umkhonto ugwaze ekhaya (It was an own goal),” said Madlala.

But University of KwaZulu-Natal political science lecturer Zakhele Ndlovu said there was a perception that commissions were used to settle political scores.

“But, it is just a perception. Look at the Zondo Commission, for example. It is seen by the RET (radical economic transformation) forces as an attempt to destroy political opponents,” he said.

Ndlovu said this view was not something new.

“It dates back to the Thabo Mbeki era which was viewed as using such commissions to target political opponents. Unfortunately, they have lost that credibility,” he said.

Ndlovu said the Zondo Commission was right to a certain extent to target people who used state resources to enrich themselves.

“The question is who did they target?” he asked.

“If you look, Gwede Mantashe is implicated. He is someone within the [President Cyril] Ramaphosa faction,” Ndlovu said.

“The perception is there. It’s either real or imagined, but as a country we have serious problems and most people see them (commissions) as fruitless or something used for political purposes,” he added.

Madlala and Ndlovu made their remarks days after former judge Willem Heath released a report on the review of the Mpati Commission.

In his report, Heath said a commission of inquiry has a duty to seek the truth diligently and independently on the matters it was requested to investigate.

“The truth-seeking undertaking of a commission must further be unblemished by any form of prejudice, bias, a political or commercial agenda, and must not follow a predetermined or a foregone narrative, which narrative predicts the outcome of the inquiry of a commission,” he said.

Heath also said a commission of inquiry was not an appropriate platform for demagoguery, rumour-mongering, political points-scoring, electioneering and propaganda.

“What is required are verified facts (not verifiable facts) from various sources.”

Ndlovu said it was obvious that when commissions made findings against individuals or institutions, it impacted on their reputations.

“If you take the Zondo Commission, they made findings and they impacted on certain companies such as Bosasa and so on. The question is whether the National Prosecuting Authority is to go after the implicated people, and if they do, are we going to see convictions?”

He said if there was consequence after an inquiry, maybe people would take them seriously.

“In the past we have not seen any consequence emerging after the findings of the commissions,” Ndlovu said.

Madlala said the public wanted to see action after an inquiry finished its work.

“As you know, the wheels of justice move very slowly. What they (people implicated) will do, because they have money, is take the report under review,” he said.

“To get a court hearing in South Africa does not take less than two years and by that time people have forgotten,” Madlala said.

He said commissioners or judges, whom he described as men of integrity, were appointed to institute an inquiry.

“The unfortunate thing is that it is meant to lull the public by the government. They don’t implement the recommendations of the commission and most of them end up collecting dust,” he said, referring to the Moerane Commission into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.

Madlala noted that the commissions didn’t come in one shape.

The Zondo Commission, he said, came up with a detailed report and had done its work.

“The question is implementation. I have big doubts,” Madlala said.