President Jacob Zuma has sacked the controversial Bheki Cele as police chief, has appointed South Africa’s first ever woman National Police Commissioner and has seemingly sidelined the career policeman that was acting in the post.
“I have decided to release General Cele from his duties,” Zuma said at a press conference in Pretoria late yesterday afternoon.
“In September last year, I appointed a Board of Inquiry in terms of Section 9 (1) of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act to investigate the alleged misconduct by … Cele, and to pronounce on his fitness for office or his capacity to execute his official duties efficiently and related aspects. The Board of Inquiry Chairperson, Justice Jakes Moloi presented the report to me on 20 May. I would like to thank Justice Moloi and the members of the Board for the work done and the speed with which they executed their mandate.
“The report was made available to General Cele who made representations to me thereon. I subsequently met with him on Friday, 8 June to discuss the matter. I would in particular, like to extend my personal gratitude to General Cele for the unquestionable commitment to his work as National Commissioner. Leading from the front, he brought much needed passion, energy, expertise and focus that boosted the morale of the police leading to improved productivity and a visible reduction in crime levels,” Zuma said.
“A lot of good work has been done by SAPS. However, the reports of the Public Protector and that of the Board of Inquiry indicate deficiencies administratively, and in particular in relation to General Cele’s duties as an accounting officer. The Board has found General Cele to be unfit for office and has recommended his removal from office in terms of the provisions of section 8(6)(b)(v) of the … Act.
“Having thoroughly considered the report of the Board, and applied my mind thereto, I have decided to release General Cele from his duties. General Cele still has a lot to contribute to the country given his experience and commitment to making South Africa a better place for all each day.”
Turning to the acting police chief since Cele’s suspension in October last year, Zuma said: “I would like to thank Lt General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi who has been acting as National Commissioner during the past few months. He has done a lot of work to keep the force focused on fighting crime and corruption.” His future deployment is unclear.
He then looked at the mandate of the new police commissioner, saying he has had “a detailed discussion with [police] Minister [Nathi] Mthethwa about what needs to be corrected immediately within the SAPS so that we can continue the excellent record of fighting crime. These include management and financial systems as well as the breaches of information security within the establishment, which has unfortunately become common.
“We have in the past few weeks witnessed a disappointing spectacle of police officers jeopardising state security by placing information in the public domain, in contravention of their oath of office. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated if the fight against crime is to continue being effective.
The Minister and the new National Commissioner will assist us in dealing with these matters,” Zuma said.
“It is my pleasure to announce the new National Police Commissioner today who takes office with immediate effect. She is Ms Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, who is currently the chair… of the Presidential Review Committee on State Owned Enterprises and the Deputy Chair… of the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Office Bearers. Phiyega brings a wealth of experience as a senior executive who understands the responsibility of government in the fight against crime and the duties imposed in dealing with state assets. I have every confidence that she will show leadership and acquit herself well as National Commissioner. We wish her all the best in her new assignment,” Zuma said.
Mthethwa, in a statement, welcomed the appointment. ” She takes over the reins of the South African Police Service (SAPS) at a time when government has prioritised and intensified the fight against crime; a time when despite the successes we have attained as a collective, we believe that more still needs to be done. Based on her previous and current expertise, Phiyega brings wealth of experience on strategic leadership and sound management background, both from public service and private sector. We believe such vast experience will stand her in good stead as she steers the SAPS towards better compliance, systems integration, effective and greater accountability.
“Her appointment as the first black female National Commissioner of the SAPS in the history of our country; further indicates our serious commitment to transformation of the police. We believe that her appointment is well deserved as her CV speaks volumes and that her previous achievements in various management echelons, are not coincidental but achieved through dedication and hard work.
Her international expertise, qualifications coupled with local understanding of the management dynamics, are good ingredients to enable her to help SAPS achieve and deliver on its mandate, which is to ensure that South Africans are and feel safe.
“On behalf of myself as the Minister of Police, the Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu, the senior police management and the entire SAPS …, we welcome her to the SAPS family. We will give her all the necessary support to ensure that we collectively continue to deal a blow to crime.
The opposition Democratic Alliance disagreed. “The President’s announcement of a significant reshuffle of his Cabinet, and the appointment of a new police commissioner, reveals a President desperate to shore up support ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference [in December],” party leader Helen Zille said in a statement.
“President Zuma has once again appointed a National Police Commissioner … with no policing experience. While the Democratic Alliance welcomes the firing of disgraced former Commissioner … we would have hoped that the President would have acted to restore public confidence in the South African Police Service by appointing someone with a demonstrated ability in crime fighting and police management.
Mthethwa’s DA shadow, Dianne Kohler Barnard, also welcomed the Cele move. “Sacking Cele was the right thing to do. However, singing the praises of Cele as the President did this afternoon is an insult to the remaining dedicated and law-abiding members of the South African Police Service (SAPS). The President’s strong action against Cele was unfortunately watered down by the ‘personal gratitude’ expressed to the fallen general.
The DA also cautiously welcomed the appointment of Phiyega. “Her qualifications and wealth of experience in management make a welcome addition to the top brass of the SAPS. The DA remains concerned, however, that she is not a career police officer and has no experience in fighting crime.
“The fact that she is not a career politician is, however, a welcome departure from her predecessors and we trust that her tenure will not be marked by similar disgraceful conduct. We wish Phiyega well in her new position, where challenges abound. We will continue to closely monitor and scrutinise developments in the police under her watch. The DA hopes that Phiyega’s appointment will usher in a new era for the SAPS marked by stability and effective management at the top level. We trust that this will translate into increased credibility and integrity for the service as well as renewed confidence and public trust in the work of the police.”
The Freedom Front Plus party also welcomed Cele’s departure but worried about Phiyega. “…Zuma, with the firing of … Cele as police commissioner, made the right decision,” party police spokesman Pieter Groenewald said. “He however thereafter made yet another wrong decision by appointing … Phiyega as police commissioner. Zuma had no other choice but to get rid of Cele because the police commissioner should set an example and have an impeccable record. It is now the third consecutive police commissioner which has no police training whatsoever. The previous two commissioners are sufficient proof that political appointments do not work in the police. The public will not have any faith in the new commissioner as a result of her lack of police expertise. Zuma let a golden opportunity pass by to appoint an expert with police experience and police management,” Groenewald, concluded.
Profile*: Mangwashi Victoria PhiyegaRiah Phiyega was born in Polokwane and received her primary and secondary education in various schools in Limpopo. She holds a BA (Social Work) degree from the University of the North, a BA Hons (Social Science) from Unisa, an MA (Social Science) degree from the University of Johannesburg and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Wales- University- Cardiff. She also attended Executive Development Programmes at the National University of Singapore and Wharton University, Pennsylvania in the US.She is a past Group Executive of Absa Bank Limited. While at Absa, she chaired the All Pay boards of Gauteng and Eastern Cape; she was also a board member of Absa Actuaries, Chair of Gotswelela Trust and Trustee of the Absa Foundation. She was Group Executive at Transnet where she was a member of the Executive Committee and an attending member of the Transnet Board. She served on numerous Transnet subsidiary boards and chaired the Production House, Transmed and Petronet Vusisiwe Trust. She was also Board Member of Connex Travel as well as Trustee of the Transnet Foundation. She was part of a team of Senior Executives that was responsible for the restructuring of the old Portnet into two major separate entities, Port Operations and Port Authority. Subsequent to the above restructuring, she became part of the Executive of the National Ports Authority of South Africa. It is during this period that she championed the establishment of the International Relations in the Maritime Sector. She became a member of the board and committees of the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH) and as well as the Port Management Association for East and Southern Ports (PMAESA). During this period, she chaired the committee that organised the first International Conference for Ports and Harbours, hosted on the African continent which saw over 2000 executives of the Maritime industry coming to Durban.Community development, engagement and empowerment add colour to her illustrious career. In the community development area, she served as Director for Development at the National Council for Childwelfare. She started her career in Pretoria Childwelfare. She spent some few years at the Chamber of Mines as an Employee Wellbeing Consultant. In recent times, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Presidential State Owned Enterprise Review Committee. The Committee was tasked with the responsibility of reviewing State Owned Entities and to make recommendations for their future repositioning. She is the current Vice Chairperson for the Independent Commission for Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.She chaired the Road Traffic Management Corporation Investigation Task Team which looked into maladministration, corruption and poor corporate governance. The Task Team made major intervention and restructuring recommendations to the Minister of Transport assisting to put the agency on a fresh footing.She has served in other significant National structures among which are serving as a board member of the 2010 Bid Committee that delivered hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup by South Africa, Commissioner for the Commission of the Road Accident Fund Commission led by Judge Satchwell that made recommendations into reasonable, equitable and accessible systems of payments by the Road Accident Fund. She was also Chairperson of the National Welfare Forum that actively participated in the Social Welfare Restructuring Committee responsible for the development of the post apartheid Welfare White Paper. She also sat on the Council for Medical Aid Schemes. She was a member of two University Councils namely Medunsa and University of Limpopo. She also served on Council Committees of Technikon Witwatersrand and the Tshwane University of Technology. She is offering her services several NGO boards, notable among which are the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Southern Africa Trust. Apart from the above, she is involved in women empowerment:As member of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA), As a coach and mentor linked to mentoring programmes of various organisations including, among others, Association for Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP), International Women’s Forum: SA (IWFSA), African Women Chattered Accountants (AWCA) and The Graca Machel Scholarship.She is Chairperson of the Ladies Forum of her ChurchShe believes in personal transformation and seeks to drive that through motivational speaking and coaching others She has received recognition awards for her leadership in business, community development and women initiatives. She is driven by what she calls the ISE Philosophy; i.e. Integrity, Service to others before self and Excellence. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. *As provided by Mthethwa’s office.