Why disband the scorpions?

2008-01-23 00:00

On Monday, opposition parties vigorously condemned the decision by the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to disband the Scorpions and to absorb some members of the unit into the South African Police Service. The implementation seems to be something of a rush job: the NEC wants it completed by June.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was forthright: “In the absence of any understandable reason from the ANC as to why the Scorpions should be disbanded, one can only assume that the government is doing so to protect the ANC from current and future corruption investigations”. There were seven convicted criminals on the ANC NEC, she said, and six other members of that body are currently under criminal investigation. Other parties agreed, with Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP suggesting that the Scorpions, a “superb crime-fighting unit”, has been so successful in exposing crime in high places that it had become a threat to certain senior ANC members. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa questioned the June deadline and asked why the ANC leadership is obsessed with this issue, when there are so many more pressing matters demanding attention.

There is, of course, the argument that the successful Scorpions unit is a source of deep resentment to the SAPS and that this affects the work and effectiveness of the latter. Even if this were true, the answer would surely not be to disband the unit, but rather to find ways of inspiring the SAPS to match its standards of policing excellence. Without evidence or explanation to the contrary, however, it’s more logical to conclude that because the NEC knows the Scorpions would, quickly and easily, discover the skeletons in its collective cupboard, it is neutralising this extraordinarily potent and effective unit to protect itself.

The enforcement of law and order is a pillar of our democracy, and the Scorpions have played a vital part in sustaining this provision of the Constitution. What message does the disbandment of the unit carry in South Africa and to the rest of the world? Many here will be convinced that the upper echelons of the ruling party now form an arrogant, corrupt and secretive clique which believes itself to be above the law — and above the Constitution itself — and believes that it has the right to manipulate the South African justice system for its own ends. Elsewhere, the miracle of the South African democracy and the “rainbow nation”, which had begun to lose its lustre when the murky aspects of the arms deal first emerged, now looks seriously tarnished. The election of Jacob Zuma, a man sullied by charges of fraud and corruption, as ANC leader and presidential heir apparent, accelerated the process, and it appears now that the ruling party is intent on finishing the job. What next? The independence of the judiciary? The freedom of the press? Where does it stop?

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.