The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) welcomes the announcement by President Jacob Zuma regarding the dismissal of Minister of Public Works Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and the immediate suspension of the National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele.
Since early this year the SJC has been calling for action to be taken against Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Cele following two reports issued by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in February and July 2011 relating to two South Africa Police Service (SAPS) lease deals. The reports found that both the Department of Public Works (DPW) and SAPS had failed to comply with ‘section 217 of the Constitution, the relevant provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury Regulations and supply chain management rules and policies. This failure amounted to improper conduct and maladministration.’ Yesterday’s announcement vindicates the Public Protector after months of intense pressure.
As a community organisation our work is underpinned by a desire to ensure that the values of, and the rights contained in the Constitution are upheld, protected and defended. Much of our work focusses on calling on government to act in a manner that is responsible, open, accountable and responsive to the needs of people.
Maladministration and misuse of funds prevents our limited financial resources being spent on delivering basic services such as sanitation and housing to impoverished communities. The Auditor General has identified more than R26.4bn of, ‘unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure’ by government departments in the past year alone.
The announcement of a commision of inquiry into Cele’s role in the SAPS lease deal chaired by retired Justice Yvonne Mokgoro is to be welcomed. The commision however must have the full power to investigate the deal (including the ability to subpoena), wherever it may lead. It’s recommendations must be acted on, and if neccesary dismissal and/or criminal charges must be considered. The Commision should also be transparent, and open to the public.
In her reports Madonsela ordered a number of government departments, Ministers and officials involved in the lease deals to submit Action Plans and/or Reports to her office before specfic deadlines. The reason that these submissions were ordered was to allow the Public Protector to evaluate if changes were being implemented that would result in a safeguard against future misconduct and maladministration. At present, it is not known whether these reports have been submitted or not. The SJC have asked the Public Protector to make these reports public. In light of the upcoming commision of enquiry, we again make this call.
While the actions taken against Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Cele are positive developments, it remains worrying that it has taken so long for these decisions to be made. Yesterday’s annoucement only came after sustained pressure from the media and civil society. It is now critical that civil society and community organisations mobilise to ensure that both individuals and any other parties involved including Mr. Roux Shabangu of Roux Properties are investigated and appropriate action be taken.
For further comment please contact Phumeza Mlungwana (SJC Chairperson) on 0744178306
 http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/state-blows-r26-4bn-in-spree-1.1161043 (20 October 2011)