[DEBATE] : Scorpions a ‘monster’ — Mantashe
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Fri Feb 1 07:16:25 GMT 2008
Scorpions a 'monster' — Mantashe
Sue Blaine, Education Correspondent, Business Day, 1 February 2008
The African National Congress (ANC) had "created a monster" in the
Scorpions, and this monster had to be undone, the party's new
secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, said yesterday.
The ANC has been widely criticised for resolving at its Polokwane
conference last month to incorporate the successful elite
investigation unit into the police. Two respected political analysts —
Adam Habib and Steven Friedman — said this week that the ANC's
intention smacked of score settling.
"It looks like the ANC has only resolved to dissolve the Scorpions —
that is but one resolution (of hundreds taken at the Polokwane
conference)... The question of the Scorpions is that we created a
monster, and we must undo it. Where you concentrate power in one unit
it is a problem," Mantashe said at the University of the
The Scorpions have led several investigations against ANC
heavyweights, including its president Jacob Zuma and national police
chief Jackie Selebi, and many in the party believe it has become a law
The ANC wants to incorporate the unit into the police and to strip it
of its prosecutorial role.
"Prosecutors will obviously be aggressive when they are investigating
(with police)," he said.
Many have attributed the Scorpions' success to the fact that the unit
had state lawyers working with police to investigate complicated
crimes, with the lawyers ensuring the police collated evidence that
would hold up in court.
Neither the US nor the UK — both models of democracy — had units that
worked on this principle, both kept prosecution and police separate,
Mantashe said at a meeting called by the Young Communist League (YCL).
This was not strictly true, said Institute of Security Studies senior
researcher Antony Altbeker.
While the US's Federal Bureau of Investigation did not prosecute its
own cases, the US did have prosecutor-led investigations and many US
attorneys-general headed these.
The UK's serious economic crimes directorate prosecuted its own cases,
and in several European countries, such as France and Italy,
detectives "almost always" worked with prosecutors, and they had
investigating magistrates, he said.
"You can't make hard and fast statements about these things.
Investigation of crime is always and everywhere very messy," said
Turning to education, Mantashe said the ANC resolved at Polokwane to
work towards ensuring education was free for the poor up to
undergraduate level, and that by the end of next year 60% of SA's
public schools would not charge fees.
The YCL was right to call for free education, but the league needed to
understand education could never be "free like the air that you
breathe". If it was free for students — something the ANC aspired to —
then what that meant was that the government would have to pay.
This meant it could not happen at once, because the government had to
manage many demands on the fiscus, he said.
"We are not going to do sensational things with education. Once you
get an undergraduate degree it breaks the chain of poverty.
Postgraduate education is a luxury in a country with a sea of
poverty," he said, when asked why the ANC was not striving for free
education at all levels.
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