Parliament to consider constitutional amendment for body investigating high-level corruption

17th March 2023 By: News24Wire

 Parliament to consider constitutional amendment for body investigating high-level corruption

Accountability Now advocate Paul Hoffman

Accountability Now's advocate Paul Hoffman SC is continuing with his crusade for the establishment of a Chapter 9 institution tasked with investigating and prosecuting serious corruption.

He delivered a presentation to Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee on Friday on Accountability Now's submission, which was originally submitted to Parliament in 2021.

In his submission, Hoffman stated "the Hawks are not up to the task at hand when it comes to countering grand corruption".

"Their structural and operational lack of security of tenure of office is the underlying problem, which is exacerbated by executive instead of parliamentary control and oversight of their duties."

Based on the Constitutional Court's Glenister rulings, he proposed this situation could be remedied by establishing a special Chapter 9 Institution to investigate and prosecute corruption.

This would require a constitutional amendment.

African National Congress MP Xola Nqola listed the number of institutions already tasked with dealing with corruption, like the Hawks, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Special Investigations Unit and Auditor-General.

"All these forms of institutions are tasked with the same vicious fights against corruption," Nqola said, asking if the establishment of a new body would not duplicate these institutions' work.

Hoffman said: "What we envisage doesn't involve any duplication whatsoever."

He added the proposed body would only deal with serious corruption, they proposed only corruption worth more than R5-million, but this would be up to Parliament.

This type of corruption would then be removed from the Hawks and NPA's mandates.

Hoffman said what they were looking at was a single entity to deal with corruption.

"I cannot stress enough; we are not asking for something fancy that we have dreamt up ourselves. We are asking for this Parliament to take its duty to see to it that its laws are properly implemented. That's what it is about," he said.

In November 2021, Parliament's legal services briefed the committee on the proposal. It found establishing another Chapter 9 institution to deal with corruption was unnecessary as it was already "addressed and legislated for".

The Democratic Alliance has also introduced legislation for a body investigating high-level corruption. Its proposal differs from Hoffman's in that the NPA would still prosecute those crimes.

Hoffman has been advocating for such an institution for several years. 

The committee also received presentations from the Africa Criminal Justice Reform, a project of the Dullah Omar Institute in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Western Cape, on the appointment process for National Directors of Public Prosecutions, and the Helen Suzman Foundation, on the restructuring of the Judicial Services Commission.