15 February 2023 – 17:21
The president appears to be hell-bent on making the Investigating Directorate a permanent feature of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). By so doing his administration will put SA in a position that will be worse, from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective, than that which pertained when the Scorpions were summarily dissolved.
The government’s plans are also not compliant with the binding constitutional criteria set by the Constitutional Court for our anti-corruption entity, in that its independence, guaranteed resourcing and secure tenure of office are not properly addressed, or not addressed at all, in his announcement.
This reads: “As we announced in the state of the nation address last week, we are about to take yet another important step forward by making the Investigating Directorate a permanent entity within the NPA. This is so that it can deepen its collaboration with other entities in the criminal justice system and enrol more cases in the courts.
“Consultations are under way on the legislation to give effect to this and to prescribe its powers and safeguard its independence. This also has implications for its funding and operational capacity.
“Currently, the Investigating Directorate’s investigators are seconded from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks. Once it’s made permanent, the Investigating Directorate will be able to improve the capacity of its existing team of specialist investigators and prosecutors and recruit new ones.”
No suitably experienced and qualified new recruits will join the revamped ID for the simple reason that no self-respecting professionals will be prepared to take the risk of working for a unit that could be shut down summarily in the same way as the Scorpions were. There is no reference to guaranteed resources for the new unit and its independence is questionable given that the whole of the gutted and saboteur-infested NPA is subject to the “final responsibility” of the minister of justice. The new unit will have, as its accounting officer, the director-general in the department of justice.
The permanent, stand-alone and independent entity the national executive committee of the ANC punted in August 2020 is not even remotely related to the plan now on the table. Why?
On the last occasion on which he delivered a Sona in the now burnt-out parliamentary building, the president portentously announced that an anti-corruption body that accounts to parliament and not the executive was in his cabinet’s planning. That, it seems, is no longer the case as the whole of the NPA is under the final responsibility of the minister of justice.
If the government does not adequately address the secure tenure of office of the new anti-corruption entity, its independence and the guaranteeing of its resourcing, the legacy of the Ramaphosa administration will be one reflecting a gross failure to respect the rule of law by implementing the binding decisions of our highest court. Fie for shame on the whole half-baked plan.
Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now