Mixed reaction to new top cop appointment

2012-06-13 06:47

The appointment of South Africa’s first black woman top cop drew mixed reactions, with opposition parties questioning her lack of police experience.

But Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa believed Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega was the right person for the job.

“We believe that her appointment is well deserved as her CV speaks volumes and that her previous achievements in various management echelons are not coincidental but achieved through dedication and hard work,” the minister said yesterday.

President Jacob Zuma announced Phiyega’s appointment yesterday afternoon, after axing General Bheki Cele as national police commissioner.

Mthethwa said: “Based on her previous and current expertise, Phiyega brings a wealth of experience on strategic leadership and sound management background, both from the public service and private sector.

“We believe such vast experience will stand her in good stead as she steers the SAPS towards better compliance, systems integration, effective and greater accountability.”

Phiyega is currently the chair of the presidential review committee on state-owned enterprises, and deputy chair of the independent commission on the remuneration of office bearers.

The African National Congress welcomed her appointment.

“Her experience in the public service, her knowledge of public policy and her understanding of government will come in handy in ensuring that she rises to the challenge of her new portfolio, and the need to sustain our fight against crime and corruption within the police service and the public in general,” spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.

The party acknowledged her predecessor Bheki Cele’s role, saying during his tenure crime levels dropped and public policing visibility increased.

Opposition parties commented on Phiyega’s lack of experience. The Democratic Alliance said the appointment showed Zuma was desperate for support ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung later in the year.

DA leader Helen Zille said: “The president’s announcement of a significant reshuffle of his Cabinet and the appointment of a new police commissioner reveals a president desperate to shore up support ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference.

“President Zuma has once again appointed a national police commissioner with no policing experience.”

She said the party had hoped Zuma would have acted to restore public confidence in the SA Police Service by appointing someone with a demonstrated ability in crime fighting and police management.

The African Christian Democratic Party welcomed Zuma’s decision to fire Cele.

“While commissioner Cele did an excellent job in leading the police in the fight against crime, which led to a decline in violent crimes, he was found wanting in matters of administration,” party leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe said.

The Congress of the People said Cele’s dismissal was long-awaited, but the party was surprised by the new appointment, saying Phiyega lacked experience.

The Freedom Front Plus said President Jacob Zuma made the right decision to fire Cele.

“He however thereafter made yet another wrong decision by appointing Mangwashi Phiyega as police commissioner,” said spokesperson on police Pieter Groenewald.

“It is now the third consecutive police commissioner who has no police training whatsoever. The previous two commissioners are sufficient proof that political appointments do not work in the police.”

The ANC Women’s League congratulated Phiyega.

“We believe having a strong woman at the helm of the police service will bring a renewed focus to overcoming the scourge of gender based violence, such as rape, which has become a growing concern across the country,” league spokesperson Troy Martens said.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union said Phiyega brought “vast work experience” to the police.

The civil rights group AfriForum hoped that Phiyega would be serious about combating crime, as well as the eradication of corruption within the SA Police Service.

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