Calls mount against security cluster ministers over lapses
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The startling admission by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the government was caught napping during the violent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng was a sign that he was let down by his ministers in the security cluster.
This was the view shared by the political analysts and political parties calling on Ramaphosa to clean up his Cabinet of incompetent ministers.
Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said Ramaphosa’s statement was in essence saying State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Police Minister Bheki Cele did not do their jobs when violent protests erupted after former president Jacob Zuma was imprisoned.
Ndlovu also said the remarks implied that Cele and Dlodlo were incompetent.
“It is an indictment of the leadership as a whole. Signs were there when people camped outside Zuma’s house and made all sorts of threats should Zuma be incarcerated,” he said.
Another analyst Protas Madlala said it was upsetting that Ramaphosa was not more stern in his address to the nation about the unrest.
“He owes the nation an apology and must explain how they were caught pants down. It was a poor speech and the warning was detached.”
But, Ndlovu said the nation should take solace in the fact that Ramaphosa had admitted their failures.
While the two political analysts agreed on the need for a Cabinet reshuffle, they differed on the timing.
Madlala said Ramaphosa should consider reshuffling his Cabinet when the dust has settled down.
“He should reshuffle, but not now. There are many that should be axed, including the one responsible for intelligence.
“The next phase is to clean up the Cabinet because they let him down,” Madlala said.
However, Ndlovu said Ramaphosa should ask the ministers in the security cluster to step down because he doubted they would resign on their own.
“It then becomes the responsibility of the president to relieve or force them to resign. If he wants to be taken seriously, he must ask them to resign.
“It is the right time while it is fresh to show he is taking his job seriously and won't tolerate incompetence. If he is scared to force them to resign, he can reshuffle and that would send a message that he means business,” he said.
Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said action should be taken against the security cluster heads following the acts of criminality and looting the country witnessed over the past week.
Maluleke believes some parts of government knew the unrest would occur, and they did nothing to prevent the situation.
“I agree that action should be taken, but I don’t think that it is just a question of the intelligence cluster, I believe it’s deeper. An intelligence cluster deals with problems, but where do these problems come from?
“It is not merely problems about intelligence and law and order, some of them are clearly economic problems. Some are judicial problems, for e.g. for how long has former president Jacob Zuma been waving his finger at the judiciary and the judges.
“Where did we think this would all end? It’s not merely what the security cluster did, it’s everyone in government,” said Maluleke.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said some introspection needed to be done to look into the effectiveness of the intelligence.
He said officers were overwhelmed when they learned about the eventualities that were taking place.
“We have 187 000 police officers in the country, about 30% of those are office based and they have to look after a population of about 60 milllion people. It would not have been possible for police to be everywhere at all times.
“When these incidents of looting were happening, it was frustrating for officers to be everywhere when they never had knowledge of where the sporadic incidents were occurring hence why we say the intelligence should have been more effective,” said Mamabolo.
Mary de Haas, KZN violence monitor and social scientist, believed at the first rumblings of violence, road blocks should have been set up immediately and the government should have had the army on standby and ready for deployment to help quell the violence.
“We have a military base on the North coast, they should have been deployed to clear the roads and protect businesses.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa should have announced his decision to immediately fire Cele and Dlodlo, while IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said this should serve as a lesson for government's justice, safety and security cluster.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald supported the DA’s call for the president to take action against the relevant ministers, while UDM leader Bantu Holomisa was also of the opinion that the security cluster had failed the country