DA wants Bheki Cele to have less power in appointing IPID head

2020-03-16 20:29
Bheki Cele.

Bheki Cele. (Daily Sun)

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The DA will table a private members' Bill to curb the police minister's powers in appointing the executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), and will allow for a greater parliamentary oversight into any appointment. 

"IPID is in a state of complete chaos due to a lack of leadership and political interference," said the party's spokesperson on police, Andrew Whitfield.

For the past year, the police watchdog has been without an executive director.

The term of the previous executive director, Robert McBride, ended on 1 March 2019.

This, after Police Minister Bheki Cele was adamant that he should not be reappointed, and the ANC contingent on the previous Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police ensured that his contract was not extended in a contentious process about a year ago.

Cele appointed IPID chief financial officer Victor Senna as the acting executive director.

The post wasn't filled by 1 March this year, as is required by law, and Cele asked for an extension.

Appointed

Two weeks ago, Cele appointed Patrick Setshedi as the acting executive director until the end of April. IPID head of investigations Matthews Sesoko was suspended shortly thereafter.

Last week, IPID investigator Mandlakayise Mahlangu, who was investigating former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, was murdered. 

In 2019, Parliament amended the IPID Act to limit the powers of the minister to remove an executive director of IPID.

"The DA believes that this amendment did not go far enough and that there is an urgent need to further limit the Minister’s powers to appoint an executive director of IPID," Whitfield said.

Currently, the IPID Act gives the police minister the power to "nominate a suitably qualified person" which the National Assembly's police committee must either "confirm or reject".

"The DA is of the view that this process is problematic because it gives too much power to the minister and reduces the role of the committee to a mere tick-box exercise while opening the directorate up to undue political influence."

Amendment

The DA proposes amendments to Section 6 of the IPID Act for an independent panel to shortlist candidates. The committee will then interview the candidates and recommend a preferred candidate to the minister. The process will also allow public comments on the shortlisted candidates.

"We also trust that these amendments will speed up the process of appointing a permanent IPID head. The institution has had an acting head for the past year and despite continued assurances, Minister Bheki Cele continues to drag his feet."

According to Whitfield, the DA's proposed amendments to the IPID Act will allow greater parliamentary oversight in the appointment of an IPID head, and this could reduce the chance of a political appointment and ensure public participation in the appointment process.

Read more on:    cape town  |  ipid
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