Police leasing scandal dodges scrutiny for now

Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and national police commissioner General Bheki Cele will no longer appear before a scheduled joint meeting of two parliamentary committees on Monday.

ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said on Friday he had received a “proposal” to postpone the meeting.

The duo were scheduled to appear before the National Assembly’s public works and police committees in connection with the SA Police Service lease deals.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was also scheduled to attend.

Motshekga said the meeting would not have been able to “adequately attain its intended goals” due to problems relating to the unavailability of several committee members.

They had unavoidable commitments in their constituencies and other parliamentary deployments, he said in a statement.

Mondays are dedicated to parliamentary constituency work.

For this reason, the chief whip accepted the proposal from the committees to postpone the meeting until further notice.

Motshekga advised the committees, in the interim, to take full advantage of the upcoming parliamentary budget review and recommendations process (BRRP) meetings to deal with the contents of the public protector’s report and make appropriate recommendations to relevant authorities.

The BRRP is an annual mechanism used by Parliament to evaluate and scrutinise the overall performance of government departments, including budget spending.

“After the conclusion of this highly intensive and well focused process, Parliament will make appropriate recommendations to the departments, including the treasury in an event of financial indiscretions, for remedial action.”

Should these processes not sufficiently achieve the desired objectives, a special meeting or meetings of the relevant committees would be rescheduled to deal with the matter, Motshekga said.

The decision was criticised by Democratic Alliance MPs Dianne Kohler-Barnard and John Steenhuisen.

They said this was the third time the minister had failed to appear before Parliament to explain herself on this issue.
It was now clear that the establishment of the joint committee was not motivated by a desire to hold the minister and the commissioner to account.

“It was set up so that President [Jacob] Zuma could delay acting on the recommendations in the public protector’s report. These delaying tactics fool nobody.”

Zuma needed to show South Africa that he had the courage to act against corruption in his government. He should take action against Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Cele without any further delay, they said.—Sapa

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