A tipping point for Zuma

2011-02-26 09:41

The public fallout between National ­Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Special Investigating Unit boss ­Willie Hofmeyr is not good for the country, the integrity of these institutions or government’s ­efforts to fight crime.

It undermines the public’s faith in these institutions and the state’s commitment to fight the scourge of corruption that ­destroys our institutions and prevents proper services from ­being delivered to the poor.

Madonsela’s findings, supported by Hofmeyr, in her probe into the murky R500-million lease agreement for a new police head office is a tipping point for President Jacob Zuma and his ­administration.

His handling of this matter will show the public whether the president is willing to walk the talk on his government’s anti-corruption stance.

Anything less than a full, independent forensic probe into businessman Roux Shabangu’s dealing with Public Works will make a mockery of Zuma’s and the ANC’s commitments to fighting graft.

Madonsela says Cele and Public Works acted in an unlawful and irregular manner when they cut a deal with Shabangu to rent his Middestad building for 10 years.

Cele says Madonsela’s report is factually and legally flawed, and that he is ­innocent. Both can’t be right.

If Madonsela is correct, the deal should be ­cancelled and the guilty parties in the police and Public Works charged and disciplined.

If Cele is right, Madonsela will have difficulty continuing in her position – one that requires the ­highest degree of trust and integrity.

Having a cloud of suspicion hanging over the head of our police chief is an untenable, but familiar, situation for South Africans.

Jackie Selebi, Cele’s predecessor, is currently fighting a desperate battle to stay out of prison after four years of claiming innocence and shouting conspiracy.

Hopefully Zuma has learnt from the damage caused by the Selebi corruption saga to our social and moral fabric, the integrity of the police and the image of South Africa as the crime capital of the world.

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