No truth to Cele's axing - presidency
Johannesburg - National police commissioner Bheki Cele has not been fired by President Jacob Zuma, the presidency said on Sunday.
"There is no such thing. No. It's pure speculation. There is no truth to that report," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in response to an article in the Sunday Independent newspaper.
It reported that Cele had been axed and had been asked to take on a diplomatic post in Canada. He was expected to vacate his office by November 30.
The dismissal was reportedly the result of a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, which implicated him in controversial lease deals for buildings in Durban and Pretoria.
Madonsela found that Cele had been involved in improper conduct and maladministration.
In a later statement, the presidency said Zuma had written to Cele on August 29 asking him to explain why he should not be suspended.
"The president is considering the national commissioner’s response and that is where the matter stands at the moment.
"The allegations published by Independent Newspaper products are therefore without basis whatsoever."
Democratic Alliance police spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said it did not matter whether the newspaper article was correct or not. "Either way something has to be done about the Bheki Cele and the public protector's report," she said.
There had been a tendency by the government to simply relocate "inconvenient" politicians to ambassadorial posts, said Kohler-Barnard.
"It's extraordinary... people are not being held accountable, but are instead put into positions where they receive pensions and salaries."
Congress of the People Member of Parliament Mosiuoa Lekota echoed Kohler-Barnard's statements saying whether or not there was any truth to the article was irrelevant.
"Cope finds it scandalous that President Jacob Zuma uses the department of international relations [and co-operation] as a dumping ground for all politicians and public servants facing criminal charges by deploying them to other countries."
He said there were already a number of people who had been "dumped" in foreign affairs posts to remove from the national domestic scene.
"That point is not dependent on whether Bheki Cele goes or not."
Lekota said some of the politicians who had been given international posts were former Limpopo health and social development MEC Miriam Sekgabutla (posted to Cuba), former correctional service minister Nqconde Balfour (Botswana) and former minister of public works Geoff Doidge (Colombo-Sri Lanka).
He said each of the departments had been plagued by allegations of misconduct.
"This is a clear example that the current administration has always fought corruption with kid gloves," said Lekota.
The Freedom Front Plus said that if the Sunday Independent report was true, then it was welcome development.
However, it was unacceptable that corrupt officials be rewarded with ambassadorial posts, the party's police spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said in a statement.
"It creates an embarrassment and infringes on the integrity of ambassadors serving abroad as ambassadors' characters should attest to high integrity."
Both the DA and the FF Plus urged Zuma to appoint a career policeman to the ranks of national commissioner instead of making a political appointment.
The police and the newspaper were not immediately available for comment.