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By Amanda Watson

News Editor

McBride appears to have few friends left at parliament

A political analyst believes the attack on McBride has been coming for some time - and that his problems may be bigger than he thinks.

The seriousness of the abuses of power in Crime Intelligence (CI) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (aka the Hawks) could not be overstated, and required urgent intervention and correction.

That’s according to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride’s submission yesterday to the police portfolio committee (PPC) where he is fighting to stay on as Ipid boss.

McBride had been asked questions on Tuesday by the PPC over his applications to head up the Hawks or CI, made last year in February and May respectively.

“I believed, and still, believe, that I was well placed to fulfil those positions,” McBride told the PPC. “Great strides had been made at Ipid under my watch.”

McBride noted that at the time of making the applications, he did not imagine Ipid’s independence “would again come under attack by a subsequent minister, especially in light of the Constitutional Court judgment”.

Meanwhile, questions are being asked why Police Minister General Bheki Cele wants McBride’s head so badly, the most cogent being asked yesterday by Daily Mavericks’s Marianne Thamm.

“So far, it has been a bitter and long battle of attrition with … McBride, surviving several attempts at dislodging him during his tenure and which played out during the height of Ipid’s investigations into allegations of state capture and the role of the SAPS,” Thamm wrote.

She questioned why the ANC would turn on McBride here and now. “Especially considering the spirit of Thuma Mina’s commitment to rooting out endemic corruption across the state and government departments. And even more peculiar, only a few months away from a general election?”

Thamm noted it was evident something was “out of kilter … during Tuesday’s heated and at times vicious debate by members of the PPC with regard to McBride’s reappointment.”

Certainly, McBride’s pending evidence before the Zondo Commission on State Capture has little to do with the apparent grind against him, with Cele’s name allegedly only appearing peripherally.

Despite all this, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) may have thrown a spanner in the works with its Constitutional Court application to appeal the Pretoria High Court order authorising Cele to make a “preliminary decision” in McBride’s future at Ipid.

“However, the Constitutional Court has on numerous occasions held that a political actor is not permitted to make a decision on the renewal of a term of office of an executive of an independent institution, such as Ipid, as this is incompatible with the requirements of adequate independence,” HSF director Francis Antoni said in a statement.

“A decision by a political actor on such a renewal (or non-renewal) is therefore constitutionally invalid and a court order which gives effect to a process requiring such a decision is unconstitutional.”

Antoni noted the high court’s decision was suspended by the HSF’s pending application.

“Pending the conclusion of the leave to appeal application, the current renewal process endorsed by the High Court order should be placed on hold until a final determination by the Constitutional Court,” Antonie said.

However, the PPC was not backing down.

In a statement yesterday, the PPC said it had “taken a view, after legal advice, to proceed with the processes it had initiated as it is exercising its powers in terms of section 6(3) of the IPID Act and not the settlement agreement”.

“The settlement agreement simply regulated the timing of any decision to be taken in terms of section 6(3). The settlement agreement did not give the committee the power to decide on the renewal of the contract. That power is sourced in the legislation and rules of the National Assembly,” said PPC chairperson Francois Beukman.

“Furthermore, the committee is of the view that its functions as set out in Section 6 of the IPID Act remain and do not seem to be disputed by the HSF.”

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga believed the attack on McBride had been coming for some time – and that McBride’s problems may be bigger than he believed.

“McBride has been doing his job and it seems it is someone he did not have a very good relationship with,” Mathekga said.

“It is not the first time McBride has faced off with parliament and it appears he does not have a good relationship there.”

Mathekga said it appeared McBride’s relationship with parliament was becoming untenable especially in light of his battles with former minister Nathi “Firepool” Nhleko and disgraced Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza.

“McBride has been pushing very hard. Remember the [Zimbabwean] rendition case and the fight around [former Hawks head] Anwa Dramat,” Mathekga noted.

“He’s survived too many battles. It appears this one is going to be difficult for him.”

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