Godongwana plumps up NPA amid worries over state capture cases

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s first full budget makes provision for additional funding for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service to allow for the recruitment of some 90 staff members at the Investigating Directorate (ID) and 12 000 new trainee constables.

The NPA and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) will receive a budget increase of R426-million over the next three years, but R262.1-million will be sourced through reprioritisation of existing allocations to the peace and security cluster.

The increase is designed to intensify the fight against corruption and “ensure sufficient capacity for the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases emanating from the state capture commission”, the budget review tabled on Wednesday notes.

The chair of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has remarked that it would require “an army of prosecutors” to implement the recommendations in his report on grand corruption, the next two instalments of which are due in coming months. The first, released in January, deplored the failure to date of the NPA to prosecute serious corruption.

The ID, which was established to deal with prosecutions referred by the commission, has battled since its inception in 2019 to make swift progress in serious corruption matters despite a presidential proclamation issued a year later to allow it access to evidence uncovered by the commission.

The lack of a sizable permanent staff component has been cited a major impediment, and contributed to the frustration prompting the resignation of the head of the unit, Hermione Cronje, which takes effect next month. The ID employs around 100 people but only a fraction are not on fixed-term contracts, and there have been calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to capacitate the criminal justice system to show that he will do more than simply pay lip service to the findings of the commission that has spent four years laying bare state capture.

The allocation is also meant to  enable the recruitment of 68 new staff for the FIC.

The budget makes provision for the reprioritisation of R36-million in 2022-23 to invest in information technology in the Office of the Chief Justice, the FIC, the public protector’s office and South African Human Rights Commission. The department of home affairs will reprioritise R10-million to improve the visa application process to support tourism.

The police service will receive an additional R8.7-billion over the medium-term expenditure framework period. Of this, R2.9-million is meant to cover the cost of the 2021 public wage increase agreement.

“The remaining allocation will enable the department to appoint 12 000 entry-level constables,” the budget review said.

The South African National Defence Force will get an additional R1-billion in 2022-23 and a further R800-million the following financial year to address what the budget review terms “longstanding compensation challenges” and to fund reforms to its personnel structure. The second allocation has been made conditional on satisfactory progress in implementing the reforms, which is meant to include early retirement without a reduction in pension benefits as part of plans to rejuvenate the defence force.

The overall medium-term budget for safety and security spending and the criminal justice system was fixed at R664.3-billion, with a view to supporting the fight against crime and corruption, while implementing staffing reforms to keep compensation within bounds.

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