ANC guns for McBride: 'What is he really fighting for?'

2019-02-25 20:11
Robert McBride. (File photo: Lindile Mbontsi)

Robert McBride. (File photo: Lindile Mbontsi)

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ANC MPs came out gunning for executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Robert McBride on Monday when the Portfolio Committee on Police deliberated on the renewal of McBride's contract.

The committee has worked well together over the last few years, but on Monday partisan lines were clear.

The ANC line was that there clearly was a breakdown of trust between McBride and Police Minister Bheki Cele and that IPID's performance under McBride wasn't up to scratch. Also singing from the ANC hymn sheet was NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam.

READ: McBride says politics behind bid to get him out of IPID

The DA said the ANC would rue the day when McBride is removed and said it was not only natural, but positive, for the IPID's executive director and minister of police to be adversaries. IFP MP Elphas Buthelezi expressed views similar to that of the DA.

The committee dealt with submissions it has requested from Cele and McBride, whose contract expires on Thursday.

This, after a settlement agreement was reached two weeks ago in legal proceedings McBride had instituted against Cele, after Cele wrote to him that his contract would not be renewed. The committee was also a party to the court proceedings.

In a draft order handed to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, the parties agreed that the decision Cele had taken to not renew McBride's term as IPID executive director was a preliminary decision that still needed to be confirmed or rejected by the committee.

In his submission to the committee, Cele said there was "prima facie evidence" that McBride was not fit to be executive director.

But McBride said Cele's allegations were "feeble". In response to Cele's submission, he added that the minister's decision to not extend his term for another five years was political. Putting an acting head in his place would be bad for ongoing investigations into powerful people, he said.

READ: Cele explains why he thinks McBride is not 'fit' for another term at IPID

ANC MP Jerome Maake said on several occasions during the meeting that there clearly was a breakdown of trust between McBride and Cele, which would affect service delivery, so it was not necessary to deal with the "nitty-gritties" of the matter.

"I don't see a situation where you put two people who are fighting in the same room and you switch of the light and you leave them there," Maake said.

"When the elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers."

DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said it was worth asking why there was a breakdown in trust. 

'The right man for the job'

"If McBride is too independent-minded and not politically pliant enough, that that's exactly the right person for the job," he said.

DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard said nothing in the IPID Act says the minister and the executive director of IPID need to get along. 

Another argument offered by the ANC was that there was no legal requirement for McBride's contract to be extended. 

"The facts speak for themselves," ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane said. "There is no automatic right for the renewal of the contract."

ANC MP Martha Mmola said: "If I was the minister, I would not give him reasons, because the contract is going to expire. If I was the minister, I would have said, 'Contract expires February 28, thanks.'"

'What is it that he is fighting for?'

Mmola also questioned why the committee was talking about renewing his contract. 

"What is it that he is fighting for? For me this contract must not be renewed," she said.

ANC MP Livhuhani Mabija said McBride should be disciplined by the party to which he belongs - "whether it is ANC or DA or whatever" - for causing Parliament to waste money on the meeting. 

"The fact that he started running around saying, 'Hey this-and-this, my contract must be renewed,' he knows that he isn't fit to go on in that position. Therefore he needs to be disciplined, wherever he belongs because this is fruitless expenditure of Parliament," she said, while Kohler Barnard shook her head.

Barnard said she was quite "irate" about the situation, which was brought on by the letters Cele wrote, informing McBride that his contract would not be renewed.

"It was not up to the minister to write these letters." 

She said the allegations against McBride on which Cele based his decision, were withdrawn. 

"To me, it seems like just another strategic move."

'Not another firepool movie'

She likened it to the way in Johan Booysen was removed from the police and said it may have to do with the case against former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

"We don't need another minister producing another firepool movie," she said, in reference to former police minister Nathi Nhleko's bizarre press briefing where he tried to justify building a swimming pool at former president Jacob Zuma's residence. 

"We've seen all this nonsense before," Kohler Barnard said. 

Mbhele said: "At the outset, without trying to sound melodramatic, I would like to suggest this is our Scorpions moment."

Mbhele said in the cases of the removal of Menzi Simelane as the National Director of Public Prosecutions and Berning Ntlemeza as the head of the Hawks  - both of which Cele has cited in his submission to the committee – there were clear findings against them.

"We don't have any findings, we have allegations [against McBride]," he said.

ANC MPs also said McBride's heart was not in his position at IPID, as he applied for the posts of head of the Hawks and head of crime intelligence at the police. Opposition MPs said it was natural to apply for other positions.

"What do you expect him to do? Sit at home and twiddle his thumbs?"  Kohler Barnard said.

She added that it was "clear that he has lost the support of the ANC".

Maake said that remark was "provocative and uncalled for". Mabjia said committee chairperson Francois Beukman should not allow Kohler Barnard to continue speaking. Beukman allowed Kohler Barnard to continue.

They also took issue with performance assessments for McBride, which gave him high marks, were backdated and unsigned.

"He was lying to us," Mmola said.

Kohler Barnard said it was unfair to suggest that McBride lied to the committee.

Later, when he got another chance to speak, Ramatlakane complained that Kohler Barnard was twisting words of a member who said McBride lied to the committee.

"No one used those words," Ramatlakane said.

The committee will continue its deliberations on Tuesday.

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Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  ipid  |  bheki cele  |  robert mcbride  |  politics
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