As the investigation against suspended MEC Albert Fritz is due to be completed, Premier Alan Winde might have to start weighing his options in the event of an adverse finding.
Fritz, who was suspended by Winde last month following allegations of sexual assault, also stepped aside from his role as acting DA Western Cape leader.
The party’s provincial chairperson Jaco Londt confirmed that they were awaiting the report from the independent probe led by Advocate Jennifer Williams, a former director of the Women’s Legal Centre and advocate at the Cape Bar society.
“This is an independent investigation not run by the DA. The party is waiting on the premier’s report-back so that a decision can be made with regards to the way forward,” he said.
“We expect to have this report in the next 14 days, which is less than two weeks away.”
Political analysts say if Winde should remove Fritz from his cabinet, choosing a replacement would be a balancing act.
Stellenbosch University political analyst Professor Zweli Ndevu said the position requires someone who is confident and can adapt to difficult situation. The department has in the past had spats with SAPS over police resourcing to the Western Cape as well as deploying its own law enforcement to help curb crime.
“So I believe they will replace Fritz with someone senior, someone who has the experience, is competent enough within safety and who can give the citizens assurance about safety,” he said.
body.copy...: Ndevu said possible candidates included Dan Plato, Reagan Allen, Ricardo Mackenzie and Mireille Wenger, all prominent members of the provincial legislature.
“When I look at Mckenzie, I see he has the whole package. He has the experience and has worked in a ward where gangsterism is rife, and showed that he could bring change.
“Allen is already the head of the portfolio committee (on community safety) and would naturally be the next in line. However, this is not how it works in South Africa.
“Allen, I would say, is the perfect candidate because he would exceed the requirements with ease.
“Plato has all the experience and worked on the ground, but he ► had ◄ has not done relatively well, so I would stay away from using that person.
“Wenger is a female with an iron fist, and looking at Winde’s cabinet, it is predominantly male. It could do well with a female. However, the disadvantage here is that you would need more than just an iron fist to be in such a position.”
Analyst Daniel Silke said Winde would be under pressure to appoint someone with immaculate credentials.
“This is a portfolio that is very important because it touches the lives of every citizen in the Western Cape.”
While Silke praised Winde on his handling of the matter, the premier has been on the receiving end of some criticism and his inability to appear before a committee in the provincial legislature to account.
Opposition leader in the legislature Cameron Dugmore slammed Winde for not being transparent enough.
“We understand that you are compelled to limit the damage to your cabinet and government. However, you also have a duty to the legislature to be honest and guided by our code of conduct. By not providing the terms of reference (for the investigation), you appear to be covering up allegations that this MEC was already engaging in deviant behaviour while at Social Development, and thus, Premier Winde, you are complicit in this cover-up,” he said in a statement.
In response to this, Allen accused the ANC of intentionally choosing to misconstrue or exclude the facts in order to gain some relevance.
“The fact of the matter is the premier has already agreed, to me in writing, that he would like to brief the committee once he has received the report on the independent investigation. Both the premier and SAPS have repeatedly encouraged the complainants to lay charges, as it remains their right to do so. In the meantime, the premier has involved an NGO to assist the complainants with the matter.
“Should the investigation report recommend any criminal charges, the premier will not hesitate to do so.”
So far none of the victims have pressed criminal charges against Fritz.
Gender-based violence researcher and project consultant at the University of Johannesburg, Lisa Vetten, said the decision to open a criminal charge is solely that of the victim.
Ndevu said even without a criminal case or conviction, the stigma of this scandal would follow Fritz.
“If there is a criminal charge opened and Fritz is found guilty, the expectation would be that he gets fired, or resigns and therefore (will) also be sanctioned by the DA.”