President Jacob Zuma deflected questions about the decision to reinstate former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli in Parliament on Tuesday.
During a question and answer session, Zuma was asked to comment on the ongoing saga concerning former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli who, after being implicated in fraud, corruption and a murder case, was suspended, reinstated and then moved to a different branch of the police force.
Zuma told MPs that questions concerning staff movements such as appointments, suspensions, reinstatements and transfers are the responsibility of government departments and not the president.
“Such a question, including whether the decision [to transfer Mdluli] was rational or not should therefore be directed to the affected apartment. There are government prescripts and procedures that are in place to deal with performance issues within departments,” he said.
“The president does not manage the performance of officials in departments of government.”
Zuma said two investigations related to the matter are currently underway, one by the minister of police and another by the inspector general of intelligence. “I would like to assure this house and the public that everything is being done to address the matter. We wish to add that the law enforcement agencies are operating as they should, protecting the public whose safety and security remains the top priority of government,” he said.
Take the steps
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said there was a serious crisis in the criminal justice system and asked for reassurances that Zuma would take steps to ensure that Mdluli was re-suspended.
But Zuma would not give it and responded by saying the matter would be dealt with by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
“If the president left his task of supervising a government and went to the department to deal with directors and [deputy director generals] I think that would be a mad situation,” he said.
Zuma said that it was “an exaggeration” to say there was confusion in the police force.
“We’re dealing with one element, which is an element of the police force. It’s not the entire police force,” he said.
Zuma said he had not taken steps to find out whether Mdluli’s appointment had been through a normal procedure because this was the responsibility of senior officials in the police department.
Asked by Cope MP Leonard Ramatlakane how he intended to restore the credibility of the security forces in view of the saga surrounding “a certain person”, Zuma said Mtethwa had “made it very clear” that proper processes are being put in place to address questions about the integrity and credibility of the police service.
“Such processes relate not only to specific individuals but also to how the management itself is operating. Security agencies including the police continue to do the good work of protecting the country and its citizens.”
He denied any knowledge of the ground coverage intelligence report, which details allegations of corruption against suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele and implied that Cele is part of a growing anti-Zuma camp.
The Hawks have in the past stated that the document has not been recognised within the police department.
Zuma later dismissed a question from DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who asked how he planned to restore public confidence in the National Prosecuting Authority, in light of the suspension of NPA investigator Glynis Breytenbach, who had called for a review of the lifting of the murder charge against Mdluli, and the “non-suspension” of Mdluli.
“We’re talking about a component of government which has its own authority. People have always said government must not interfere in what’s happening in the component. It’s very interesting that people now think I must interefere in everything that’s happening,” he said.
Zuma told Kohler Barnard that the opposition could not have it’s cake and eat it. “I take a decision, you challenge it, and the head is taken out,” referring to his selection of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions, a decision the DA successfully challenged in court.
“You destablise the very NPA and then you say what is the plan?” he said.
Zuma said he would not “jump in” but would “respect the independence of the component”.