Mbete, Nhleko in heated clash
DEPUTY President Cyril Ramaphosa has been caught in the middle of a public row between Speaker Baleka Mbete and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, over the minister’s attempts to remove Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride.
Mbete hit back yesterday after Nhleko accused her earlier in the week of not taking seriously his request for McBride to be disciplined, saying she would approach Ramaphosa “as a matter of urgency”.
Nhleko had complained that his request had been responded to only a month after he wrote to Mbete, when she wrote back saying there was no time for Parliament to deal with it before the expiry of a 30-day deadline set by the Constitutional Court.
A furious Nhleko said it was “extremely concerning” that “in a matter as serious such as this where human and African lives were lost, we are experien- cing a set of behaviour which negates the severity of this matter”.
He was referring to the death in custody of Zimbabweans who had allegedly been unlawfully rounded up and handed to the neighbouring state’s police by the Hawks.
The minister claims McBride altered the findings of an Ipid investigation report on the matter to protect Hawks head Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart, Shadrack Sibiya.
He and Parliament were given 30 days to begin a misconduct hearing against McBride, if they wished to do so, after the Constitutional Court found the minister’s power to suspend and remove the Ipid head to be a threat to the directorate’s independence.
The court set aside McBride’s suspension, but suspended the effect of the order until the 30 days had lapsed.
He returned to work on Wednesday after Parliament declined to process Nhleko’s request, with Mbete telling the minister in her letter that legal opinion had advised her it could be done only by way of a resolution of the National Assembly, which would not sit in time to pass.