‘We will appoint an SIU head’
Analysts say the appointment of a permanent SIU head will do well for its morale.
PRETORIA - It appears President Jacob Zuma will now appoint a new head to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) within the next few weeks, according to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Over the last few weeks, a series of prominent individuals and groups have called on the President to explain why he had left the unit without a head for so long.
Corruption Watch said the vacancy would affect the unit's morale and effectiveness.
Cosatu said a head was urgently needed and activist Zackie Achmat said Zuma's inaction went beyond constitutional neglect.
Radebe said Zuma said he would take action, but the real issue could well revolve around who will be appointed and whether that person will be seen as fully independent.
The unit has been left without a permanent head for over 13 months after its last permanent head, Advocate Willem Heath, resigned.
A few weeks ago, Zuma pledged his support to fight corruption.
"We must continue supporting law enforcement agencies who fight corruption, including the Chapter Nine institutions."
But Zuma has been accused of being a failure in this regard.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille in response to Zuma's statement said, "What President Zuma wants is to protect himself and the ANC from efficient corruption investigators."
Zille also said the only motive that she could read from all the delays is that the President is looking to hire someone that is so compromised that the SIU won't be able to follow through its investigations without fear or favour.
Corruption Watch head David Lewis said it was the President's own inaction that undermined anti-corruption measures.
"I can't help but believe that it makes the agencies less efficient, makes them potentially more malleable and pliable to pressure from the top."
He also said he has no idea what caused the delay in announcing appointment.
Meanwhile corruption academic Hennie van Vuuren said the President's inaction was having a major impact on the fight against corruption.
"The element of uncertainty has a ripple effect on the staff and potentially on the morale of the organisation as well."
Van Vuuren said the President needed to make the decision sooner, rather than later, as the delay weakened the fight against corruption.
The Presidency has not responded to questions about why it took so long to make the announce of the appointment.