The Portfolio Committee on Police will meet tomorrow to deliberate on the renewal of the five-year contract of the IPID Executive Director, Mr Robert McBride. This follows an agreement reached in the Gauteng High Court between Police Minister Bheki Cele and McBride that an indication by the Police Minister that he would not renew the IPID Director’s term was a “preliminary decision” that must still be confirmed or rejected by the Portfolio Committee on Police, as would be applicable in an appointment process.
The DA reiterates our call that Minister Cele must provide rational, cogent and substantive reasons to McBride, the Police Portfolio Committee and the South African public for his plan not to renew the contract. In addition, we would want McBride to be afforded an opportunity to respond to the Minister’s explanation in order to enable the Committee to make an informed and balanced decision.
An honest and professional police service should be one of the Minister’s top priorities, and under McBride’s leadership, IPID has made significant investigative breakthroughs in detecting systemic corruption and procurement irregularities in the South African Police Service (SAPS). It is therefore baffling that Minister Cele would seek to make such a move that disrupts the continuity of this work. At the least, it is an ignorant step and at most, it is highly suspicious and easily interpreted as an attempt to neuter the IPID’s robust corruption-busting investigative work.
For these reasons, at tomorrow’s meeting the DA will insist on ministerial testimony prior to the Committee making any determination of confirmation or rejection. We should be able to interrogate Minister Cele to clarify whether his intention has taken into account the successes of the IPID under McBride’s leadership, as well as the likely adverse consequences of non-renewal for the Directorate’s effectiveness and instability.