Moving Mdluli raises questions about real motive
The Times Editorial: Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa began his budget speech in parliament yesterday by claiming that the primary task of a democratic South Africa is to provide a safe and secure environment for its law-abiding citizens.
It's a great pity then that he followed this with the announcement that highly contentious police intelligence chief Richard Mdluli will be moved from his current job while an investigation is conducted into allegations that senior officers are conspiring against him.
And a great pity too that Mdluli - whose future hangs under an exceptionally bleak cloud of fraud and murder allegations - was not suspended while these allegations are investigated.
But far more concerning is that Mthethwa, who has thus far been reticent about Mdluli's future, has acted in what on the surface appears to be a bold act. But let's scrutinise his announcement. The State Law Adviser's office will be investigating Mdluli's complaint. But it largely deals with the drafting of legislation and advising the three tiers of government. It does not have an investigative track record.
Further, Mdluli's complaint will be investigated, but the very severe charges against him will continue to be dealt with by the inspector-general of Intelligence.
Mthethwa sees no need to reinstate the charges against Mdluli and let him have his day in court - as expected by the rest of South Africa's law-abiding citizens.
In the absence of real action, it is entirely reasonable to suspect that the Mthethwa announcement has everything to do with removing pressure from his department as well as that on President Jacob Zuma.
How else can the very temporary removal of Mdluli be interpreted if it merely seems like the rearrangement of furniture to suit a political purpose?
However much Mthethwa wishes for a police force that will serve the country's citizens, he must forgive the rest of us who might be deeply suspicious of what has happened to Mdluli.