McBride: Not fit or political hit?

2019-02-26 21:37
IPID boss Robert McBride. (Cornél van Heerden)

IPID boss Robert McBride. (Cornél van Heerden)

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Is Robert McBride a fit and proper executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) amid a slew of allegations against him, or are there political machinations to get rid of him before he unearths more embarrassing cases?

This is the question the Portfolio Committee on Police wrestled with on Tuesday as it continued to deliberate whether or not McBride's contract should be renewed.

His contract expires on Thursday. 

The matter landed in the committee's lap after a settlement agreement was reached two weeks ago in legal proceedings McBride had instituted against Police Minister Bheki Cele, after Cele wrote to him to say that his contract would not be renewed. The committee was also a party to the court proceedings.

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

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 was a preliminary one 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 the 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.

Following the trend of Monday's meeting, the ANC MPs on the committee, as well as NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam, fell in behind Cele. But the DA MPs seemed sympathetic to McBride's assertions that the allegations were "feeble" and that there was a political motive.

Ahmed Shaik-Emam

Ahmed Shaik-Emam from the NFP. (Lindile Mbontsi)

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard read from a statement by the ANC study group on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which was issued last year and praised McBride on the case against former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

She said McBride also revealed IPID was investigating the police's purchase of a grabber  - a device to track cellphones, worth around R10m – at an inflated price of around R50m. It is alleged the money was to be used to buy votes at the ANC's hotly contested elective conference. 

"I believe it probably is being used against him," said Kohler Barnard. "It is probably what hit the hardest."

She said this is what could behind the ANC's "massive swing" away from supporting McBride to having a process with a predetermined outcome to remove him.

ANC MPs took exception. 

"She can't push us this far," said ANC MP Jerome Maake, the ANC whip in the committee.

"She is crossing a line."

Shaik-Emam also objected.

"The ANC is not the same as the DA," said ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane.

He said the DA chased former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille out of the City of Cape Town because she refused to consent to the building of a desalination plant which would have led to money reaching the DA coffers.

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

"So, we're not like that."

He said when McBride made the claims about the grabber, they said: "Fine, arrest people."

He said it was a "red herring".

"It is for the media to write about."

He added that it was absurd that IPID's independence would be under threat if McBride wasn't there because other officers would conduct the investigations.

DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said it was not that McBride was the "sole bulwark" for the IPID. 

"It is a systemic risk, not a McBride risk," Mbhele said. 

"There is a systemic risk posed to IPID when there is a break in leadership, when there isn't a clear way forward."

Shaik-Emam said: "For me, it is all about the ED [executive director] securing a job for himself."

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

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.

"I can't see the independence of IPID being affected," he said. "The independence of IPID will be severely impacted by the renewal of this contract."

The committee also dealt with a finding by the Public Service Commission that McBride abused his authority when he unilaterally moved a female vetting officer to another department and revoked her vetting clearance after she applied for a police position.

Some of the other allegations against McBride – which ANC MPs labelled "hair raising" or casting a dark cloud over McBride – emanates from suspended IPID investigator Cedrick Nkabinde. Kohler Barnard reminded the committee twice that a court found that Nkabinde had lied under oath.

The committee will deliberate on its findings on Wednesday and adopt its report on Thursday.

While the committee sat in Cape Town, the court proceedings continued in Pretoria.

News24 reported that the committee would announce its decision on whether or not to renew McBride's contract on Thursday at 12:00, while the parties were expected to appear again in court at 14:00 on Thursday after a decision has been made.  

Speaking to News24 following the court case, McBride questioned whether the process in Parliament would be fair and rational.

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Read more on:    anc  |  robert mcbride  |  bheki cele  |  cape town  |  politics

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