Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven. Photo: Nonhlanhla Kambule

The dismissal of Bheki Cele as national police commissioner must set a precedent for zero tolerance of misuse of public funds, Cosatu said on Tuesday.

“We hope that will set a precedent for a policy of zero tolerance of the misuse of funds by public officials,” the union federation's spokesman Patrick Craven said.

“Cosatu also welcomes the new ministerial appointments announced by President Zuma and sends its best wishes to the new ministers and deputy ministers as they confront the challenges they will face in their new positions,” he said.

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) said Cele's dismissal was a vindication of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report last year, in which she found his conduct in respect of the lease agreements for police offices “improper and unlawful”.

“It is a matter of urgency that public trust in the SAPS and the criminal justice system in general be restored, and that the trend of using the state security apparatus to interfere in political matters be halted,” spokesman Lawson Naidoo said.

Casac hoped Cele's replacement, Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, would quickly restore police morale and the public's confidence in the SAPS.

Phiyega is currently chair of the presidential review committee on state-owned enterprises, and deputy chair of the independent commission on the remuneration of office bearers.

“Ms Phiyega brings a wealth of experience as a senior executive, who understands the responsibility of government in the fight against crime, and the duties imposed in dealing with state assets,” President Jacob Zuma said in Pretoria.

The African National Congress welcomed her appointment.

“Her experience in the public service, her knowledge of public policy and her understanding of government will come in handy in ensuring that she rises to the challenge of her new portfolio, and the need to sustain our fight against crime and corruption within the police service and the public in general,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

The party acknowledged Cele's role, saying during his tenure crime levels dropped and public policing visibility increased.

Opposition parties commented on Phiyega's lack of experience. The Democratic Alliance said the appointment showed Zuma was desperate for support ahead of the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung later in the year.

DA leader Helen Zille said: “The president's announcement of a significant reshuffle of his Cabinet, and the appointment of a new police commissioner, reveals a president desperate to shore up support ahead of the ANC's Mangaung elective conference.

“President Zuma has once again appointed a national police commissioner with no policing experience.”

She said the party had hoped Zuma would have acted to restore public confidence in the SA Police Service by appointing someone with a demonstrated ability in crime fighting and police management.

The African Christian Democratic Party welcomed Zuma's decision to fire Cele.

“While commissioner Cele did an excellent job in leading the police in the fight against crime, which led to a decline in violent crimes, he was found wanting in matters of administration,” party leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe said.

The Congress of the People said Cele's dismissal was long-awaited, but the party was surprised by the new appointment, saying Phiyega lacked experience.

The Freedom Front Plus said Zuma made the right decision to fire Cele.

“He however thereafter made yet another wrong decision by appointing Mangwashi Phiyega as police commissioner,” said spokesman on police Pieter Groenewald.

“It is now the third consecutive police commissioner which has no police training whatsoever. The previous two commissioners are sufficient proof that political appointments do not work in the police.”

The ANC Women's League congratulated Phiyega.

“We believe having a strong woman at the helm of the police service will bring a renewed focus to overcoming the scourge of gender based violence, such as rape, which has become a growing concern across the country,” league spokeswoman Troy Martens said.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union said Phiyega brought “vast work experience” to the police.

The civil rights group AfriForum hoped that Phiyega would be serious about combating crime, as well as the eradication of corruption within the SAPS.

The Inkatha Freedom Party pledged support for the new commissioner.

“We wish the new national police commissioner all the best as she tries to restore the image of the SAPS,” party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in a statement.

“I can only hope that the SAPS will never again suffer such a great deal of damage to its reputation, as has been the case under the two former police commissioners, due to corruption and mismanagement.” - Sapa