DA introduces Constitution Twenty-First Amendment Bill to tackle corruption

Issued by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
19 May 2024 in News

The DA has published a notice of its intention to introduce its Constitution Twenty-First Amendment Bill 2023, which seeks to introduce the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as an independent institution, strengthening a democracy free of corruption and high-level organised crime. The ACC will be mandated to investigate and prosecute serious corruption and high-level organised crime.

Currently, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which is solely responsible for the prosecution of people responsible for serious corruption and high-level organised crime, has been unable to successfully prosecute these criminals, a failing which needs to be addressed through constitutional amendments.

The key contributing factors to the NPA’s failure include:

  • The NPA is reliant on the Police and the Hawks to investigate serious corruption and organised crime. They are not empowered to do so themselves.
  • Their special directorate for corruption can be removed by a simple 50%+1 majority in Parliament, as was the case with the Scorpions.
  • The NPA is reliant on the Minister of Justice for its budget and must seek concurrence from the Minister on all prosecutorial policies. The Minister exercises final responsibility over the NPA.
  • The President appoints and removes the head of the NPA, at his sole discretion.

Both instinctually and practically the NPA lacks institutional independence, and thus is unable to properly prosecute high-level corruption and organised crime. The DA’s Constitution Twenty-First Amendment Bill seeks to address these issues by establishing the ACC with constitutionally protected independence.

Key provisions of the Bill include:

  • Providing the ACC with the power to investigate and prosecute serious corruption and high-level organised crime exclusively. The NPA will retain the broader mandate to prosecute crimes.
  • The ACC will be operationally independent, it will be able to properly staff itself, its budget will be determined by the National Treasury, and it will only report to Parliament. Thus, removing the spectre of control by the Minister and President.
  • The ACC will enjoy a secure tenure, unlike the Investigative Directorate within the NPA

This initiative represents a significant step towards eradicating corruption and high-level organised crime, marking the dawn of a robust “Scorpions 2.0.”

The DA invites the public to provide their input on the Bill. Please submit your comments to legislation@da.org.za and speaker@parliament.gov.za.