The DA is claiming victory on Thursday morning after one of their proposals to limit the influence of the police ministry on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) took a big step forward in Parliament. If approved, the policy would affect Bheki Cele and all subsequent politicians elected to this role.
Police Minister may lose grip on IPID
A portfolio committee on policing agreed to investigate a suggestion made by the shadow minister of police, Andrew Whitfield. He has argued that any person who serves as the minister of police should be strictly limited from being able to choose who serves as the Executive Director of IPID.
The incumbent, Bheki Cele, will be the first sitting police minister to have this power removed – or at least constrained – if the committee decide to go the full distance with Whitfield’s proposals.
Bheki Cele could be the first ‘top cop’ affected
The DA representative states that his suggestion was made to “immunise IPID against political interference”, and avoid a repeat of the ugly debacle between the agency and Robert McBride during the Zuma presidency – something Whitfield believes has helped to shore up his case.
“While the McBride judgment ultimately limited itself to instructing Parliament to amend the IPD Act insofar as the Minister’s powers to remove the Executive Director of IPID, it did make reference to the Minister’s powers to appoint and highlighted the importance of IPID’s independence.”
“This creates room for the Police Minister to invoke partisan political influence to appoint someone who is likely to pander to his or her whims. This might lead to IPID becoming politicised and being manipulated. Is this compatible with IPID’s independence as demanded by the Constitution and the IPID Act? Certainly not.”
Parliament is now set to investigate if they can implement the suggestions and, in turn, prevent Bheki Cele and any future successors from an over-exertion of power. The committee will also review the procedural and legal questions provided by the shadow minister.