NEWS & ANALYSIS

Ntlemeza’s appointment potentially invalid - Zakhele Mbhele

DA says Minister of Police is in contravention of SAPS Act because he failed to timeously notify Parliament of appointment

Ntlemeza’s appointment potentially invalid 

21 September 2016

The Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, has only notified Parliament of the appointment of Lieutenant General Ntlemeza as National Head of the Hawks yesterday, 20 September 2016. 

This was revealed in Parliament’s Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) distributed last night. 

The failure to timeously notify Parliament of Ntlemeza’s appointment means that Minister Nhleko is in contravention of Section 17CA(3) of the SAPS Act and Section 12(3) as well as the Civilian Secretariat Act, which requires the Minister to fill any vacancy for the Secretary of Police within a year.

Section 17CA (3) of the SAPS Act in particular requires that “the Minister shall report to Parliament on the appointment of the National Head of the Directorate within 14 days of the appointment…” Minister Nhleko blatantly ignored this requirement and failed to officially inform Parliament within the stipulated timeframe.

Nhleko's request for Parliament to condone his failure to do so is an admission that the process was procedurally flawed. If Parliament fails to condone his actions, this could serve as grounds for Ntlemeza’s appointment to be set aside. 

The DA will be writing to the Minister to seek clarity on what further action he will now take given this violation of the law.

We suspect that this letter was in fact triggered by a DA parliamentary question submitted to the Minister’s office earlier this month asking if he had complied with this section, based on our suspicion that it had not been done. The submission of this year-late letter to Parliament by the Minister confirms this suspicion. The DA asked the Minister in today's Police portfolio committee meeting if this was the case, but he would not confirm it.

It was previously reported that Ntlemeza was not on the original shortlist of candidates, that the selection panel deemed it unnecessary to subject him to a competency assessment and that it was recommended he receive an unusually generous R1.6 million a year salary.

At the very least, the competency assessment would have been essential to ascertain a candidate’s abilities and suitability, given the crucial mandate of the Hawks to tackle high-level corruption and organised crime. The Cabinet memorandum that identified Ntlemeza as the preferred candidate for the post of National Hawks Head is said to have waived this requirement by citing the urgency to fill the post since the “early retirement” of the previous Hawks Head.

But this begs the question: Where has the same urgency been to appoint a permanent Secretary for Police? The post has to date been occupied by two Acting Secretaries since Jenny Irish-Qobosheane vacated the post almost two years ago. In this regard, Minister Nhleko is also in contravention of section 12(3) of the Civilian Secretariat Act, which requires the Minister to fill any vacancy for the Secretary of Police within a year.

The Police Minister has clearly neglected his statutory obligations. 

This flies in the face of his duty to lead and supervise a portfolio that is ultimately responsible and concerned with upholding the rule of law. He said in committee that he "takes responsibility" for the contravention, but refused to say if any corrective or remedial actions would be taken. 

Minister Nhleko should do the right thing and now resign for this major blunder. 

Issued by Zakhele Mbhele, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 21 September 2016