Western Cape premier Alan Winde on Wednesday made an impassioned plea to Police Minister Bheki Cele for the devolution of powers of the SA Police Service (Saps) to provinces a proposition Cele described as amounting to “federalism”.
Addressing the National Council of Provinces debate on the devolution of the Saps, Winde said: “The Democratic Alliance [DA] in the Western Cape and the provincial government has espoused the principle of a devolution of power to provinces not only because this is the best form of governance, but because it brings government closer to the people, promoting better accountability all the way down to local level.
“In the context of South Africa today, devolution of power will ensure that we don’t become a failed state.
“The time has come for us in SA to take action and implement devolution of power now.
“Where we have failed our citizens in South Africa is in keeping them safe. When the national police commissioner says we can no longer keep our citizens safe, it makes one very worried. Policing is currently not working under a single control command coming out of Tshwane. If our citizens are not getting safer, we need to make a change.”
In his response, Cele said centralisation of Saps was in line with the department’s constitutional mandate “to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order – protect and secure the inhabitants of the republic”.
He added: “We don’t want to be dragged back to the painful chapters of our history, especially the hidden episodes of the security forces of that time.
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“Hence, we will continue to throw our full weight behind defending this hardearned democracy and the strategic policy direction led by our capable ruling party.
“Today’s debate is nothing but the hungry politics of power that seeks to undermine the progressive gains of our glorious movement.
“The rogue conduct by certain metros of creating parallel structures of law enforcement aimed at undermining the constitution cannot be left unchallenged.”