Publication: The Mercury Issued: Date: 2007-09-26 Reporter:

We Need to Know



The Mercury



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South African citizens will be legitimately concerned about action that President Thabo Mbeki has taken against one of this country's security chiefs - the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Vusi Pikoli.

Pikoli, who was suspended on Monday, became the second key national security figure against whom the head of state has acted.

The first was the then head of the National Intelligence Agency, Billy Masetlha, who is contesting his dismissal in court.

Ironically, Masetlha was fired for the same reason for which Pikoli has now been suspended: an irretrievable breakdown of relations with the cabinet minister in charge of his portfolio.

Naturally, questions would be asked about whether the exodus of key players at this high level could jeopardise national security.

We have no doubt that Mbeki has applied his mind to the matter involving Pikoli.

We also have no reason to doubt that when the president acted in the manner that he did, he had the best interests of this country at heart. We believe that in executing his duties to the nation, Mbeki is guided by the constitution.

However, as he takes these important decisions of national interest, Mbeki needs to take the nation with him. He and his government need to communicate and explain why the president has taken the steps he has.

Mbeki needs to take the nation into his confidence so that calm can prevail. He also needs to do so to nip in the bud speculation that is set to follow about the possible reasons behind his actions.

The next step would be a thorough clean-up of our national security structures. South Africans can only sleep well at night if they know that their security is in the hands of well-trained officials who have been cleared to safeguard the security of this country.

Until this clean-up is done, these national security problems will persist.

And South Africans will not be able to sleep well at night.

With acknowledgements to The Mercury.