Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Bid to limit police minister’s powers

By MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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Johannesburg - If the DA has its way, the powers that Police Minister Bheki Cele has over the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) could be curtailed.

This takes place as President Cyril Ramaphosa has yet to sign into law the amendment bill which was approved by the National Council of Provinces late last year in compliance with a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling that ordered the fixing of defects in the Ipid Act.

On Sunday, DA MP Andrew Whitfield said his party would table a private member’s bill to amend the Ipid Act to limit the powers of Cele to appoint the executive director of the police watchdog.

“Ipid is in a state of complete chaos due to a lack of leadership and political interference,” Whitfield said.

His statement came amid reports of acting Ipid acting executive director Victor Senna being replaced by Patrick Setshedi.

Whitfield said the amendment to the Ipid bill did not go far enough, and that there was an urgent need to further limit the minister’s powers to appoint an executive director.

He said the current legislation provided for the minister “nominate a suitably qualified person”, who Parliament’s police committee should either “confirm or reject”. “The DA is of the view that this process is problematic because it gives too much power to the minister and reduces the role of the committee to a mere tick-box exercise, while opening the directorate up to undue political influence.”

Whitfield further maintained that his party’s proposed amendment provided for an independent panel to shortlist candidates.

“The committee will then interview the candidates and recommend a preferred candidate to the minister. The process will also allow for public comments on the shortlisted candidates. We trust that these amendments will speed up the process of appointing a permanent Ipid head. The institution has had an acting head for the past year, and despite continued assurances Minister Bheki Cele continues to drag his feet,” he said.

According to Whitfield, their proposed amendments would also allow for greater parliamentary oversight in the appointment of an Ipid head, reduce the chance of a political appointment and ensure public participation in the appointment process.

“These amendments are critical to ensure that stability is restored at Ipid, and in order to ensure that Ipid achieves its mandate, which is to provide significant investigative breakthroughs in detecting systematic corruption and procurement irregularities in the SAPS.”

In November, the National Council of Province’s select committee on security and justice noted that it had restricted itself to remedy court-identified unconstitutional provisions in the Ipid Act.

Political Bureau

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