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Ramaphosa remains unfazed over calls to get rid of Bheki Cele as police minister

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Despite the the escalating crime rate and a 200,000-signature petition to compel President Cyril Ramaphosa to get rid of Police Minister Bheki Cele, the president is not willing to budge.

President Cyril Ramaphosa faces DA leader John Steenhuisen at question time in Parliament.

DESPITE the the escalating crime rate and a 200,000-signature petition to compel President Cyril Ramaphosa to get rid of Police Minister Bheki Cele, the president is not willing to budge.

Ramaphosa appeared in Parliament where he told MPs he backed Cele – just as lobby group Action Society’s online petition clocked 200,000 signatures calling for Cele’s removal.

EFF leader Julius Malema had asked, in written questions, whether Ramaphosa had confidence in Cele and commissioner General Fannie Masemola.

Ramaphosa, however, attributed the escalating crime situation to “extreme inequality” and Covid-19.

“I’m confident that the minister and (Masemola) are competent to lead the government’s collaborative approach to building a South Africa where all people feel safe,” Ramaphosa said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen evoked the memory of slain Mossel Bay teenager Jamie-Lee Julius, 16, who was raped, strangled and killed in January.

Steenhuisen asked: “How many more Jamie-Lees have to be raped and murdered every day until you replace your useless police minister?”

In the same breath, Steenhuisen called for the devolution of SAPS powers.

Ramaphosa charged that Steenhuisen was politicising the teen’s death. He defended Cele and said that the minister had “raised so sharply”, in Cabinet, the issue of skewed provision of resources. Ramaphosa said when Cele raised the issue of inequality, “the penny dropped”.

He said it was largely due to Cele that the SAPS received an injection of 10 000 new police offices.

The president said he agreed that police need to be closer to people, but disagreed that the DA’s suggestion to devolve police was the way to go.

Meanwhile, Action Society claimed that its new “Bheki Cele – Time to go” petition had received 200 000 signatures.

Back in Parliament, Ramaphosa also tackled SAPS’ R400 “danger allowances” paid to police – reported in the Cape Argus this week and raised in the plenary – saying that the government was in discussions with unions about it.

He said he inherited a Cabinet of 34 ministers, but trimmed it down to 28.

Ramaphosa added that new developments, such as load shedding and the need to optimise the government, necessitated the increase to 30 ministries. He said this was a “transitory process” and that the ministries would be decreased.

News24 reported on Thursday that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in April 2019 submitted to Ramaphosa a draft report focused on how to trim the number of ministries, but Ramaphosa ignored it.

Ramaphosa acknowledged the DPSA report, saying it dealt with issues of reconfiguration and how some of the departments could be merged.

He said merging took “quite a while” considering the number of directors-general, deputy directors general and their functions.

He denied, “by any means”, that South Africa had one of the most bloated Cabinets globally.

Cape Argus

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