Selebi Exhibit A in case against cadre deployment - DA

Kohler Barnard says verdict is also an indictment of the disbandment of the Scorpions

Selebi verdict: The failure of cadre deployment and Scorpions disbandment

The outcome of the Jackie Selebi corruption case is certainly a positive development, because it demonstrates that not all senior ANC politicians are above the law. However, the case must in retrospect serve to highlight two particular issues: firstly, the essential role that was played by the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions), which was controversially disbanded last year, in instigating investigations of politicians; secondly, the chronic failure of the ANC's policy of cadre deployment.

Firstly, the Selebi case was one of the last high profile cases instigated by the Scorpions. The fact that a guilty verdict has been delivered serves yet again as evidence of the fact that the Scorpions were the most effective investigative unit in the history of the South African justice system. They were not afraid of investigating senior politicians in the ANC, in large part because their independence offered them the ability to act without fear or favour in upholding the law.

Selebi's guilty verdict demonstrates exactly why the Scorpions were disbanded. The new ruling faction of the ANC clearly saw how effective the Scorpions were in prosecuting senior politicians guilty of wrongdoing, and decided to take action to ensure that were disbanded and replaced by a unit in the police department that would be easy to manipulate and politicise, both directly and via indirect means like under-resourcing.

To illustrate that, consider that, on average, in the five years preceding their disbandment, the Scorpions concluded 233 cases per year. This includes 2008/2009 when the unit was being shut down and only finalised 78 cases. A total of 639 Scorpions cases were transferred to the Hawks on 1 July 2009, but by the end of December last year only 38 had been finalised.

The pace of investigations has stagnated, even though the Minister of Police gave us his assurance that none of the Scorpions cases would be prejudiced.

More than a year has passed since the disbandment of the Scorpions, but we will continue to argue that they need to be reconstituted, under the Department of Justice. A DA government would make the reconstitution of the Scorpions a major priority.

Secondly, Mr. Selebi's case is one of the most egregious examples of the toxic effect on our institutions of the ANC practice of cadre deployment.

Selebi is a former ANC member of parliament, who was deployed to diplomatic and bureaucratic positions before moving on to be the head of the police. He had no proper expertise in security issues when he was appointed National Police Commissioner, his only qualifications stemming from his connection to the ruling political elite and time served in the ANC.

The appointment of Selebi must now be understood as a classic instance in which the ANC's policy of cadre deployment has both failed to improve the standard of services offered to the public and has resulted in serious breakdowns, in this case, serious corruption. Jackie Selebi is Exhibit A in the case against cadre deployment. The ANC should acknowledge that, and overhaul its modus operandi in making appointments.

Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard, MP, Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Police, July 6 2010

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