Why I sacked Cele – Zuma

2012-09-29 19:37

Nothing short of sacking police commissioner General Bheki Cele for his “dishonest” role in the awarding of a R1.7 billion contract for police accommodation would have been appropriate, says President Jacob Zuma.

Cele is engaged in a court battle to overturn his sacking. In Zuma’s answering affidavit filed in the North Gauteng High Court this week, the president lays bare the main reasons he sacked his once close ally.

For the first time since firing Cele in June, the president has defended his decision and the findings of a board of inquiry that informed that decision.

The board, chaired by Judge Jake Moloi, found that Cele knew businessman Roux Shabangu – who got the lease contracts – and therefore acted “dishonestly” in failing to declare their relationship.

Both Cele and Shabangu have always maintained that they did not know each other prior to the controversial tender between Roux Property Fund, the department of public works and the police.

In court papers, Zuma said that if Cele did not know Shabangu before the procurement process, he would not have been angry when warned by junior public works and police officials that the tender process was irregular.

It was also “obvious”, according to Zuma, that “something more must have been going on for Cele to be inexplicably angry at genuine concerns from his fellow officials”.

“If this was not favouring or pushing for Shabangu, it is hard to see what (it) is,” said Zuma in his papers, adding that Cele’s “dishonesty, vague answers and a conflict of interest” justified his sacking.

Zuma also argued Cele had failed to prove an “ulterior motive” was behind his axing or that Zuma’s decision was “irrational and arbitrary”.

The president has asked the court not to grant Cele the right to have the decision to fire him reviewed.

He argued in his papers that the prospects of Cele winning the case or any court finding Cele not guilty of a conflict of interest were limited.

Cele’s legal team told City Press they would be setting down the matter for a hearing on the court’s opposed motion roll soon.

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