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By Lunga Simelane


DA proposes Scorpions 2.0 as an independent anti-corruption unit

While some experts argue for strengthening existing structures such as the Hawks, the DA emphasises the need for a Chapter 9 institution.

To fight rampant crime, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wants to introduce a new crime-tackling unit – Scorpions 2.0 – a Chapter 9 institution that cannot be disbanded.

A year since the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the implementation of a raft of recommendations and changes to state institutions and oversight bodies “had come to a grinding halt”.

“Of the 98 ANC members mentioned in the Zondo report, not one has been reprimanded by the ruling party, nor handed over to law enforcement,” he said.

By establishing an independent anti-corruption commission, Steenhuisen said Scorpions 2.0 was a fight to rescue SA from “entrenched corruption and state capture”.

The party would table a constitutional amendment for the establishment of it, he said.

“If this entity is positioned in Chapter 9 of the constitution and identified as being critical to the rule of law in our country, it will require the support of at least 75% of members of parliament to be disbanded should it be deemed central to the rule of law,” he said.

“We strongly believe this institution must be set up to fortify it against political manipulation by this government or even a future government and prevent politicians from disbanding it when it does its work, like seen with the Scorpions that was abolished by a majority vote in parliament.”

Political analyst Goodenough Mashego said the DA’s talk of a Chapter 9 institution ran contrary to crime fighting.

Mashego said it was important to understand that the first Scorpions were not a Chapter 9 institution.

The Directorate of Special Operations, commonly known as the Scorpions, was a specialised unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), tasked with investigating and prosecuting high-level and priority crimes, including organised crime and corruption.

It was formally disbanded in January 2009 and replaced by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

“They were an investigating arm that was not attached to the police but also were not Chapter 9. It was a crime-fighting unit,” Mashego said.

When looking at the “basket of Chapter 9 institutions”, there were enough institutions to fulfil what the DA wanted to happen, he said.

“If they want to talk about combating corruption, they should be talking about capacitating existing structures, like the Hawks, or enable the Hawks to be more independent of the SA Police Service (Saps).

“Which is why the Scorpions were independent of the Saps as they were working closely with the NPA.” Mashego said the DA needed to focus on the independence of any investigations arm.

“In countries like France, you talk about prosecutors with the kind of powers where they actually have got police under them,” he said.

“So what is needed for combatting corruption and crime? It’s the Hawks being insulated from political influence, which does not require a constitutional amendment. That is when we are going to see the solution to most of the crime in South Africa.

“Chapter 9 institutions presently are a bridge between the public and power,” Mashego said.

“They are there to help the public to be able to mediate between them and power. The talk of Chapter 9 is bad because South Africans now don’t even want to hear more about other Chapter 9s. They know there’s too much political manipulation when it comes to Chapter 9 bodies,” Mashego said.