Corruption Watch and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) will be launching a public awareness campaign focused on the appointments of the South African Police Service (SAPS) national commissioner and the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks).
The campaign aims to ensure a transparent selection process that allows for public participation in line with the criteria recommended in the National Development Plan. Both Corruption Watch and Institute of Security Studies (ISS) consider the impact of the appointments critical in strengthening the fight against corruption and crime.
Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the ISS says the vulnerability in law enforcement institutions began soon after the appointment of Jacob Zuma as South Africa's president when the Directorate of Special Investigations (or Scorpions) was disbanded.
We were very worried at that time when we suddenly saw this move to shut them down based on this idea that they were politically misused.— Gareth Newham, Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute of Security Studies
The fundamental problem is that the constitution allows the President to appoint any man or woman he likes to be the chief of police says Newham. He adds that people without police experience, with questionable integrity saw themselves appointed by President Zuma to become the National Police Commissioner.
We've had no permanent appointment that have ended in disgrace. We've had acting appointments that have been very good.— Gareth Newham, Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the Institute of Security Studies
David Lewis, Executive Director of Corruption Watch says South Africa is a well placed to fight corruption.
We have a strong foundational law, we have independent courts, we have robust and courageous media, we have active civil society. The only thing that's missing is an effective criminal justice system.— David Lewis, Executive Director of Corruption Watch
Lewis further explains that the design of how top cop appointments are made is also problematic. He lists the first problem as President Zuma possessing unvetted discretion in appointing the SAPS Commissioner. The second problem is who the President is, says Lewis.
Listen to the clip for more on the police leadership being in crisis: