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LETTER: Remove the ‘sell-bys’ from the front line

Police minister Bheki Cele has some interesting explaining to do regarding the recent violence

27 July 2021 – 17:06 https://spkt.io/e/2400185

The security cluster in cabinet, having dropped the ball comprehensively during the recent unrest with intelligence, prevention, preparedness and reaction all left sorely wanting, must now account for its failures to the president, to parliament and to the people of SA.

It is accordingly heartening to hear that the police portfolio committee wishes to exercise its oversight powers in muscular fashion, wanting to know why the defence, police and state security ministers were caught with their pants down. Properly handled, the proposed inquiry into the failures could well lead to those responsible being held to account.

The president currently finds himself fielding calls for the dismissal of all three ministers. While there may well be justification for wielding the axe, the balance of power within the ANC is such that it may not be indicated to dismiss any cabinet ministers — other than the hapless Zweli Mkhize — at this delicate stage. This impediment does not mean the president is left without a remedy. The expedient of a cabinet reshuffle that involves putting more capable ministers in key portfolios and moving those approaching their “sell by” date well away from the front line is available to the president and should perhaps be used.

Either way, it will be interesting to hear why Bheki Cele, who denies having signed for intelligence reports allegedly sent to him, did not ask for urgent intelligence reports in the run-up to the riots.

Paul Hoffman SC
Director, Accountability Now

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