The Portfolio Committee on Police wanted to tarnish the name of former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride so that his testimony before the state capture commission would be disregarded, DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard charged on Thursday.
But ANC MP Jerome Maake countered that the opposition should leave the ANC to sort out its own problems between “fellow comrades”.
Kohler Barnard’s comments came after the National Assembly adopted a Portfolio Committee on Police report on Thursday, which recommended that McBride’s contract as executive director of IPID not be renewed.
Introducing the report, committee chairperson Francois Beukman said the crux of the matter was that McBride entered into a contract for five years and that contract didn’t include a renewal clause.
“There is no dispute about this,” Beukman said.
He said it was also important to note that the IPID Act said the executive director’s contract could be renewed for another term but wasn’t clear on the process that had to be followed to renew it.
He pointed out that McBride wasn’t removed from the post but that the decision was to not renew his contract.
Kohler Barnard, as is her wont, didn’t mince her words.
‘Angry at the level of crime’
She described the committee’s process as a bus that driven “over the cliff of partisan non-accountability”.
“I have worked with various committees during my 15 years in this House, I’ve stood here on the podium many times, usually angry at the level of crime, corruption and criminality in the SAPS (SA Police Service) and at the poor working conditions of our SAPS members,” she said as ANC backbenchers howled.
“But what I have never been, is desperately ashamed to belong to what I have until recently believed is one of the premier committees in Parliament.”
“What we sat through and witnessed was a political party, turning on one of its own on, I believe, on the orders of the minister. So the executive is now determining debate in a committee that according to legislation, oversees that very body. The tail wagging the dog.
She said she voted against McBride’s appointment.
“However, Mr McBride pulled up his socks and did a damn fine job.”
“Our meetings were never about extending Mr McBride’s contract, as allowed in the act or even appointing a new IPID head. They were, I believe, about discrediting Mr McBride so that when all is revealed to the state capture commission, it will be discarded.
“It was so obvious, I shudder to think what the court’s reaction will be when they watch the footage of those three days all but eviscerated the man. He was called a liar, sneered at, he was demeaned. All with no right of reply.”
“Now that’s the definition of a kangaroo court.”
Kohler Barnard said the committee also didn’t want to include reference to McBride’s successes in its report.
She said “quite possibly the reason why they now hate him with a visceral intensity rarely seen in Parliament” is because of the cases he investigated.
She said her “favourite” was the case the police’s purchase of a grabber – a device to track cellphones worth around R10m – at an inflated price of around R50m. It is alleged the money was to be used to buy votes at the ANC’s hotly contested elective conference in 2017.
She said when a “cadre does a good job, they’re attacked, character assassinated, they are disposed of”.
“There is usually somebody’s hide that this activity saves.”
She disputed that there was prima facie evidence of misconduct against McBride.
“Claims made against him are not evidence, they are merely allegations.”
She said the roles of the IPID head and police minister were per definition adversarial.
“What if the next IPID head disagrees with the minister or finds out something he would rather keep hidden? Would you want to remove him too? And the next one too?”
“As I said when I walked out, you should be ashamed of yourselves!” said Kohler Barnard, who left the committee’s deliberations when they did not include McBride’s successes in the report.
NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said there was “not a single iota of truth” in what she presented to the House. He said she “deliberately misled the House”.
At the end of his speech, House chairperson Thoko Didiza said he must withdraw that, which he did.
Shaik-Emam said McBride knew his contract would not be renewed and he misled the court and the public when he said Cele wrote to him to inform him that his contract will not be renewed, while he wrote to Cele twice to ask him to initiate the process to fill the post.
He said McBride said IPID would suffer if he left, yet he applied for other posts.
According to Shaik-Emam IPID’s investigations under McBride’s leadership produced “all allegations, no convictions”.
He said there was clearly a breakdown in the relationship between McBride and Cele.
‘We did it in the Western Cape’
When Shaik-Emam left the podium to return to his seat, ANC backbenchers chanted “Shaik! Shaik!” in the same way they chant “Ace! Ace!” for ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
ANC MP and whip in the police committee Jerome Maake said: “The aim of the opposition in this House is to take over the government. This is done in many ways, sometimes even by hook or by crook.”
“What this means is you’ve got to remove the ANC in order to rule. Who in the opposition – the DA in particular – has the qualities or capacity or even the bravery to engage in such an impossible and unachievable task?”
“We did it in the Western Cape!” someone in the DA benches chirped. He said the matter was a “simple issue complicated by some people with hidden agendas”.
“In a simple society of honest people, it would simply have been a labour relations issue, which would fall under the law of contracts.
“But where certain people are involved, it becomes a matter of war, because, for them, it is an opportunity to cause havoc within the ruling party.
“Madam chairperson, Comrade McBride and Comrade Cele are senior members of the ANC, whether the DA likes it or not.
“Trying to drive a wedge between ANC members won’t work,” Maake said.
He added that the ANC had its own mechanisms to deal with its own problems.
“We are not to be told by the DA.”
The committee’s decision was based on the documents before it, he said.
“Of all reasons given, the most important of them was that there was a total breakdown of trust between the two. Which is a fundamental ingredient of working together, which happens anywhere,” Maake said.
“They are fellow comrades. It is, therefore, the duty of our organisation to remedy this situation for the sake of service delivery.”
Maake also said the people in his village said DA leader Mmusi Maimane was a “moegoe”.
“I tried to defend him, but they said, if you do that, jy’s ook ‘n moegoe (you’re also a moegoe),” he said to laughter from the ANC benches.
“Let the opposition leave us to sort out our own problems.”
“Let the opposition leave the ANC.”
Despite a DA walkout, the report was adopted with 172 votes in favour and five against.
McBride’s contract expired on February 28.