Source:  http://www.thejohannesburgtimes.com/catholic-bishops-throw-weight-behind-vavis-anti-corruption-march/

The Justice and Peace Commission for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has endorsed the anti-corruption march on 30 September and has questioned Government’s commitment to curbing corruption. “We believe that the Government is not doing enough to demonstrate that it is serious in its efforts to prevent and combat corruption. Political rhetoric is often not accompanied by decisive action,” says Bishop Abel Gabuza, Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission.

PRESS RELEASE

The Justice and Peace Commission is particularly concerned about the lack of decisive action in implementing the decision of the Constitutional Court calling for effective measures to enhance the independence of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks). In 2012 the Constitutional Court found that the Hawks were not adequately independent from political interference and ordered rectifying legislation.

Adds Bishop Gabuza: “Government has dragged its feet when it comes to the restructuring of the Hawks to protect it from undue political interference as directed by the Constitutional Court.

“We have always maintained that our country will only succeed in combating corruption when anti-corruption institutions are adequately protected from executive and political interference; when competent people are appointed to head these institutions; and when the high-level politicians and those politically connected are held to account for corruption.” says Gabuza.

In May this year Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko appointed a task team to oversee the process of strengthening the independence of the Hawks. The task team has been given April 2016 as a target for completion of institutional reform of the Hawks.

The Minister has promised that the reform shall include the establishment of an independent budget programme for the Hawks to ensure that there are no malicious budget cuts when the institution is investigating powerful political officials.

The Justice and Peace Commission believes that the mandate of the task team should also include advising the Police Minister on the institutional location of the Hawks. The Hawks institutional location should ensure its independence and effectiveness as an anti-corruption institution.

Questions have been raised about its location within the South African Police Service (SAPS), which allows the National Commissioner considerable influence over members.

Says Bishop Gabuza: “We need to revive the national conversation around the best institutional location of the Hawks. We also call for greater involvement of Parliament in the appointment of the head of the Hawks. Concentration of the appointment powers in the Police Minister, without some form of parliamentary oversight, does not facilitate the independence of the Hawks.”