Timing of Nxasana departure paves way for Zuma to dodge accountability
1 June 2015
The departure of Mxolisi Nxasana as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) is extremely disappointing. He brought, for a very short period, some stability and direction to an organisation that has been largely leaderless for some years now.
This comes after reports confirming that Mr Nxasana will be vacating his office as South Africa’s prosecutions head. He is the latest in a long line of NDPPs who have departed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for either being too politically compromised, like Menzi Simelane, or for acting too independently, as was the case with Vusi Pikoli and now Mr Nxasana.
Now, again, the NPA is saddled with an acting NDPP, which by its very definition is both problematic and unsatisfactory. An acting appointment, regardless of the incumbent, can never be truly independent, since they have no security of tenure, and can be removed at the stroke of the President’s pen.
Mindful of this, an acting appointment will always be fearful of crossing the person to whom they owe their appointment, as Mokotedi Mpshe’s tenure very clearly demonstrated.
In Nxasana’s place , President Jacob Zuma has bizarrely appointed Dr Mashau Silas Ramaitse who is the subject of criminal proceedings for alleged drunken-driving. It is also unclear whether or not he has the requisite security clearance to even be the prosecutions head.
It is deeply ironic considering that President Zuma instituted an inquiry into Mr Nxasana for not having the necessary security clearance. It would appear that the President applies this rule whenever he feels like it and confirms that it was a pretext to rid himself of the outgoing NPA head by pressuring him to take an exit package, reportedly to the tune of R6 million.
Of greater concern is that the timing of Nxasana’s departure comes several days before the head of the NPA must decide whether or not to prosecute President Zuma on the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering levelled against him in the so-called Spy Tapes saga.
This, of course, suits the President. The last thing he wants is a strong, independent NDPP in position when decisions have to be made, in the near future, regarding whether or not he should be prosecuted. It would serve President Zuma’s insidious ends to have someone who is pliable to be in charge of such an important decision.
The NPA is a vital institution in our constitutional democracy, and one that needs to function independently, without fear, favour or prejudice.
The President has demonstrated that he holds the view that there is nothing wrong with his overt meddling in the independence of the criminal justice system. He has clearly reached a point where he believes that he is so far above the law that he can meddle where and when he will, with no consequences.
Statement issued by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP, DA Shadow Minister of Justice, June 1 2015