Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
1 October 2008

Parliament back from the dead

I was quite surprised to read that the African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament has rejected the unit proposed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to replace the Scorpions, although it remains committed to replacing the elite unit and has ordered the bills to be redrafted. They have proposed five possible models instead of the current Bill before Parliament.

The five models are:

n To retain the Scorpions but to rid it of the flaws that have been identified. Prosecutors investigating and prosecuting in court is one of the ANC’s principle objections.

n To have a separate, independent organised crime unit under the authority of the safety and security minister.

n To stick to the model proposed by the SAPS Amendment Bill for the creation of a directorate for priority crimes investigation (DPCI).

n An improved DPCI. The new unit will not simply be the amalgamation of the SAPS organised crime unit with the Scorpions but a more complex arrangement of a unit in the SAPS.

n To create a new ministry of priority crimes where the new unit would be located.

This bold move by Parliament seems to suggest that there is a fluidity within the ANC in Parliament created by the divisions between Thabo Mbeki’s supporters and the incoming Jacob Zuma factions within the ANC. It is refreshing to see that Parliament is actually doing its job and subjecting draft legislation to the rigorous process of analysis and critique.

The move by the relevant portfolio committee also means that the disbanding of the Scorpions is going to take a bit longer than expected (as most of us said before) and that something might still be salvaged from the extremely short sighted decision taken by the delegates at Polokwane to disband the one unit which have had some success in fighting organised crime and corruption.

I always said that if there was anything wrong with the Scorpions it was not the legislation – which created very explicit political oversight mechanisms which was supposed to be run by the former Minister of Justice. Unfortunately she never really was awake for long enough to implement the clear provisions of the act which allows a ministerial committee to set guidelines for how and when the Scorpions had to investigate.

It will be interesting to see how the NEC of the ANC reacts to this newfound independence of the ANC MPs. They might not want to be to forceful on this because the party is so fragile and the talk of a split or the forming of a new party so loud, that they might wisely decide to let Parliament do its work unhindred. One thing is for sure, I can imagine some members of the NEC being very, very unhappy with this move by ANC Parliamentarians.

We may see some more fireworks in the party despite all the claims of unity.

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