The co-chairpersons of the envisaged ad hoc committee to be set up to investigate the recent unrest, must be opposition MPs to enhance its credibility and prevent any possibility of a cover-up, says the DA.
On Friday, both houses of Parliament’s committees with oversight over the portfolios in the security cluster, met for the start of an inquiry into the unrest.
This was after chair of chairs, Cedric Frolick, on 27 July, stated there “were indications of serious lapses of the security services and police” and that it was “crucial for Parliament to get a complete picture of the reasons of the unrest, the consequences thereof, as well as the responses of the state”.
However, concerns were raised about whether the inquiry’s establishment was within Parliament’s rules.
After a briefing from Parliament’s legal services, the MPs decided to refer the matter back to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Amos Masondo and the whips to look at the composition of the committee to lead the inquiry, who should chair the committee and the prescripts of what the committee should present to the house.
On Monday, the DA spokespersons from the security cluster briefed the media on what they expected from the inquiry.
“While the DA welcomes the initiative by house chairperson, Cedric Frolick, to call for an inquiry into the widespread looting and violence that led to the deaths of more than 300 people, he should have known that the proper procedure to establish an inquiry of this nature would be for the Speaker and the NCOP chair to request it and that these Parliamentary processes and rules cannot be deviated from,” said DA MP and spokesperson on intelligence Dianne Kohler-Barnard’s statement.
Once an ad hoc committee is established, the DA wants the chairpersons – there would be one representing the National Assembly and another the National Council of Provinces – to be opposition MPs.
The DA also suggested that a formula be found to keep the number of members of the joint ad hoc committee members manageable – all the members from the National Assembly’s portfolio committees on Police, Justice and Correctional Services, and Defence and Military Veterans, as well as the Joint Standing Committees of Defence and of Intelligence, and the Select Committee for Security and Justice of the NCOP, would make it difficult to engage in the cross-questioning that’s necessary for such an inquiry, DA MP and spokesperson on justice Glynnis Breytenbach said.
She also suggested that the process should be led by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, rather than the Portfolio Committee on Police to prevent a perception that the police was policing itself.
DA MP and spokesperson on police Andrew Whitfield also suggested that the inquiry appointed an outside organisation to investigate the over 300 deaths related to the unrest.
According to Kohler Barnard’s statement, the DA expected the three ministers of the security cluster, Minister of Police Bheki Cele, Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo, and Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to be removed if the inquiry finds that they did indeed mislead the country regarding the insurrection.
They also want redacted intelligence reports to be made public.
“Residents in KZN and Gauteng deserve the full truth of why their lives and livelihoods were torn apart,” Kohler Barnard said.
“Any attempt by the ANC to exonerate the Executive and to whitewash the security cluster’s failures in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng will not be allowed.”