Simelane not fit to hold office: Zille

2009-12-11 12:28

The Democratic Alliance filed urgent papers in the High Court in

Pretoria on Friday to oppose the appointment of Menzi Simelane as the national

director of public prosecutions.

Speaking outside the court, DA leader Helen Zille said: “We believe

advocate Simelane is not a fit and proper person. He does not believe in the

independence of the judiciary. It will merely become an extension of the

ANC.”

In a founding affidavit, DA chairman James Selfe said the party was

challenging Simelane’s appointment as it was an objective jurisdictional

requirement that he be a “fit and proper person” and have “experience,

conscientiousness and integrity”.

The party was also challenging President Jacob Zuma’s decision to

appoint a new national director of public prosecutions as an executive, rather

than an administrative, action.

“It was unlawful, irrational, arbitrary, biased, based on an

ulterior motive and inconsistent with the constitution,” said Selfe.

The basis of the party’s argument against Simelane was that he gave

“misleading and untruthful” evidence before the Ginwala inquiry established to

ascertain the fitness to hold office of his predecessor, Vusi Pikoli.

Although inquiry chair Frene Ginwala said she could not support the

contention that Pikoli was unfit to hold office, she expressed concern about his

understanding of matters of national security. This was cited by the then

president Kgalema Motlanthe – who is now deputy president – as a reason to

recommend to Parliament that Pikoli be dismissed.

However, Ginwala’s report was also critical of Simelane, finding

that his conduct as the then-justice department director general was “irregular”

and that his testimony was “contradictory and without basis in fact or in

law”.

The report also referred to a letter drafted by Simelane to Pikoli

instructing him to stop investigating former police commissioner Jackie

Selebi.

Ginwala said assuming this was correct, the contents of the letter

were “tantamount to executive interference with the prosecutorial independence

of the National Prosecuting Authority” and that Simelane’s conduct was

“reckless, to say the least”.

Zille said it was a “damning contradiction” that the inquiry was

used to support Pikoli’s axing, but that its findings had been ignored when

appointing Simelane.

“The irony is that Vusi Pikoli was fired, but found [by the

inquiry] to be a fit and proper person. Advocate Menzi Simelane was not, and yet

he was appointed.”

In his affidavit, Selfe said: “Mr Simelane lacks integrity in the

sense that he displays no sign of strong moral principles, or the character of

uncorrupted virtue, uprightness, honesty and integrity.

“If left unchallenged, the appointment of Simelane will weaken the

institutional independence and integrity of the prosecution services.”

The DA further submitted that Zuma’s decision was not reasonable or

rational and did not take into account the serious allegations against Simelane,

both in the public domain and in the inquiry’s findings.

“The president can reasonably be suspected of bias and having taken

the decision for an ulterior purpose...

“It is no secret that the president himself, and other members of

the ruling alliance, have found themselves on the wrong side of the prosecution

services.

“In these circumstances it is submitted that the inescapable

conclusion is that government seeks to tame and control the NPA.”

The matter will be heard in April.
 

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