Presidency dismisses Cele rumours
Cape Town - The presidency on Monday dismissed reports of the imminent suspension of Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele at the start of what could prove to be a politically decisive week for President Jacob Zuma.
"The reports were based on unsourced information. I cannot deal in rumours," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.
He declined to say whether Zuma had already taken a decision on Cele's fate.
The Sunday Times reported that the president was about to send a final letter of suspension to Cele, seen as a once trusted political ally now fighting for his job, despite success in reducing crime rates.
According to the newspaper he would be barred from office while an investigation into his role in the police's R1.7bn lease deals for new headquarters took place, which the public protector had deemed unlawful.
According to Maharaj, Cele had responded at some length to Zuma's request for reasons why he should not be suspended, pending the board's findings on his fitness for office.
It was one of at least three weighty decisions on alleged wrongdoing facing the president against a backdrop of reported infighting in the governing party.
Zuma could this week announce the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry into the arms deal, a decision keenly anticipated to see whether the body would have judicial powers, enabling it to subpoena witnesses.
The justice ministry, dealing with the logistics of Zuma's surprise decision to establish an inquiry, said on Monday the matter was being treated as urgent, but would not give a date for an announcement.
It was initially expected as early as last week, but Zuma was abroad attending the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.
Another pressing matter the president was expected to tackle was Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's provisional report on alleged abuse of about R1m in state funds by Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka.
The report was sent to the president late last week. He had until October 3 to respond to her preliminary findings.
So does Shiceka, whose future in the Cabinet would be decided once Madonsela released her final report on the matter. Her office said she planned to do so by October 10.