Cele suspended, two ministers sacked


Bheki Cele has been suspended as national police commissioner. In addition, two ministers have been sacked in the latest Cabinet reshuffle and two have been moved in portfolio. Security sector ministers were not affected.

President Jacob Zuma told a press conference this afternoon Major General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi will act as national commissioner until further notice.
“Section 9 (1) read with section 8 (1) to (8) empowers the President to establish a Board of Inquiry into allegations of misconduct against the National Police Commissioner, and make findings and recommendations as contemplated in section 8(6)(b),” Zuma said. “In August, I informed … Cele … of my intention to institute a Board of Inquiry to look into the allegations of misconduct, in relation to the procurement of office accommodation for the South African Police Service, as per the findings and recommendations of the Public Protector.”

Zuma said the members are as follows:
– Ms Justice Yvonne Mokgoro (retired, chair).
– Advocate Terry Motau (SC).
– Advocate Anthea Platt.
“I have also decided to suspend the National Commissioner from duty with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the inquiry, in terms of section 8 (3) (a) read with Section 9 (1) of the South African Police Service Act. He will, during the period of suspension, be entitled to his full salary, allowances, privileges and benefits, in terms of Section 8(3)(b) of the Act.”

Cele last Wednesday insisted reports that he had been fired “can only be a product of editorial incompetence or corruption”. In a statement, his office denied that Cele had ever been informed that he had been fired as National Police Commissioner or that he had accepted an ambassadorial [sic] posting to Canada.

The police is expected to take up the matter further with the Sunday Independent that published the story, the state BuaNews agency reports. “In line with the SAPS’ fervent conviction that the newspaper that published this manufactured story cannot produce a single document to back up its assertions or point to, at least, two independent sources for its story, the organisation will be writing to the proprietors of the newspaper in question to request that they institute an internal investigation into the underlying factors behind the shocking lapse in basic quality control and accuracy check processes that led to the story being published,” it said.

The Presidency denied the report on Sunday, calling it a “fabrication”. Sunday Independent editor Makhudu Sefara said the newspaper stood by its story, which had been obtained from “impeccable” sources. “Our information is that Cele will indeed not be in the SAPS by December (and) would have left by end-November,” said Sefara. He added sources in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said Cele had started initial diplomatic training. “We are confident of the story. We put it through very rigorous testing. We wouldn’t have put a date on his departure if we were not reliably informed of it,” Sefara said.

The Sunday Independent said Zuma had “relieved” Cele of his duties over his role in the R1.7 billion police lease deals and he would vacate his office at the end of next month. In her investigations into the deals earlier this year, the Public Protector found Cele to have acted in a manner that was “improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration”.

Zuma also sacked public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and cooperative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka. The Public Protector has recommended action against both in recent an damning investigative reports. Mahlangu-Nkabinde was implicated – with Cele – in a lease scandal while Shiceka has lived the high life at the taxpayers’ expense.

The president has appointed Dina Pule, currently the Deputy Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as Minister of Communications. Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi, the Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, will become the new Minister of Public Works. The Department will no longer have a Deputy Minister.

Minister Richard Baloyi, the Minister of Public Service and Administration, has been appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Roy Padayachie, the Minister of Communications, is to take over the Public Service and Administration portfolio.

Obed Bapela, the Deputy Minister of Communications, has been appointed Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.

Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the Deputy Minister of Public Works, will be the Deputy Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disability.

Lechesa Tsenoli, chairperson of the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, has been appointed as Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform. ANC Member of Parliament, Thembisa Stella Ndabeni, is the new Deputy Minister of Communications.
“I wish all the new ministers and deputy ministers well in their portfolios,” Zuma said. “We also extend our gratitude to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have vacated their portfolios for their contribution to building a better life for all.”