McBride Heads To Court As Cele Appoints New Ipid Head

Former IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate) Executive Director Robert McBride threw shade in Parliament on Thursday. PICTURE: Leila Dougan

Police Minister, Bheki Cele appointed a new acting head of Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) on Friday.

Cele appointed Victor Ofenste Senna, who currently holds the position of the Chief Financial Officer of Ipid. Senna’s appointment comes after Cele decided not to renew McBride’s contract which ended on Thursday. McBride became Ipid executive director on March 1 2014 for a five year-term.

“All that is needed at this level of governance is wisdom and understanding in carrying the country’s fundamental mandate as directed by the constitution, Mr Senna must take priority in ensuring that the IPID remains independent and discharge its operational mandate accordingly without fear, favour or prejudice.” said Cele in a statement.

Meanwhile, former Ipid head Robert McBride has since launched an urgent interdict to have his contract extended.

According to an Independent Political Analyst, Molifi Tshabalala, “At this stage, a Cele-McBride matter appears to be multi-layered. We may, therefore, understand the full extent of the matter once the parties square up in a court of law, as McBrige has brought an urgent court application to keep his job. There are political dynamics at play, of course, and at this juncture, Cele has a political edge.”

Earlier this week, Members of Parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee said Cele did nothing wrong when he refused to extend McBride’s contract. 

In his submission, Cele said he believes it would be “irrational” to reappoint McBride for another five-year-term at the end of this month because of “serious allegations of misconduct” levelled against him.

“In my view, it would be irrational for the [police] portfolio committee to renew McBride’s appointment as executive director. Serious allegations of misconduct have been levelled against McBride, and these allegations undermine his fitness to hold office,” Cele said in his submissions.

However, for Tshabalala, “the reasons, which include an irreconcilable working relationship between Cele and McBridge and an expiry of his security clearance, cited by a portfolio committee in support of the former may not hold up in the court of law.”

“The expiry of the security clearance cannot be used as merit not to renew his contract. At least if he had failed the security clearance,” Tshabalala said. 

For Tshabalala, “To start with, the IPID is or ought to be a politically independent body that carries out an oversight role of the police, a directorate that falls under Cele’s political line of command. Therefore, while a rapport relationship between Cele and McBridge is indispensable to help the IPID to carry out its constitutional mandate, it is not a constitutional prerequisite,”

According to Cele, someone laid a complaint against McBride at the Public Protector in September 2018 claiming “maladministration, corruption, irregular recruitment and procurement procedures, abuse of power and purging of staff”.

“Depending on both a nature and a proportion of his revelations, the public may be of the view that Cele’s decision, which has been supported by the ANC members in the portfolio committee, may be a political ploy to jettison him because of his work,” added Tshabalala.