Motlanthe trying to protect Zuma - Zille

The Democratic Alliance leader says the decision to fire Pikoli has the "hallmarks of a cover-up"

Removal of Pikoli motivated by desire to shield Zuma

President Motlanthe's decision to fire Advocate Pikoli without justifiable explanation has all the hallmarks of a cover-up. The President has ignored the Ginwala Commission's recommendation that Pikoli should remain in office and instead used its findings selectively in the pursuance of a narrow political agenda.

Given the fact that it was Pikoli who decided to charge Jacob Zuma, the inevitable inference is that President Motlanthe has fired an independently-minded National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to replace him with one who will do the ANC's bidding in respect of the prosecution of Jacob Zuma. As such, Motlanthe has failed the first real test of his Presidency, which was to put South Africa 's interests before the narrow interests of the Zuma faction of the ANC.

President Motlanthe has attempted to justify his decision by focusing on a peripheral aspect of the Commission's findings, namely, that Pikoli did not demonstrate an "appreciation for, and sensitivity to matters of national security." Using the fig leaf of national security is usually the last refuge of politicians with something to hide. Just like the apartheid government did whenever it took a dubious decision, President Motlanthe is using the excuse of "national security" to explain away a decision that serves only the interests of the ANC.

The fact of the matter is that the Ginwala Commission found that Pikoli is fit to hold office and that he should be restored to the office of the NDPP. Instead of accepting the Commission's recommendations, the ANC is - through President Motlanthe - using the Commission's report selectively to achieve its own desired outcome, just like it used the Nicholson judgment to ‘recall' President Mbeki from office.

Pikoli has been a great disappointment to the ANC who believed that the party's interests would be protected by the deployment of an ANC member to the position of NDPP. Pikoli's days were numbered the moment that the NPA charged Jacob Zuma with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. It is a great irony that the Zuma faction has abused a Commission initiated by former President Mbeki for its own narrow purposes.

This saga again raises the question of the President's power to appoint the NDPP and recommend his or her dismissal to Parliament. The DA will not support a parliamentary resolution to remove Pikoli from office. Should Parliament rubberstamp President Motlanthe's decision, we will be watching closely to see who is appointed the next NDPP and the decisions he or she takes in respect of the case against Jacob Zuma.

Statement issued by Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, December 8 2008