I know absolutely nothing about Mxolisi Nxasana. The first time I ever heard of him was when it was announced that he was our new National Director of Public Prosecutions. I don’t know whether he is a good man or a bad one. I don’t know whether he has the respect of his peers or is seen as a toadying yes-man. I don’t know whether he throws stones at school-children or volunteers at a puppy sanctuary on weekends. But I do know this; he has my pity, because the moment he accepted his new job, the loss of his credibility and professional integrity became inevitable.
It comes with the job. Because we have a very special president. The story of Zuma’s corruption charges has been around for so long that it has become invisible. We’re bored with it. It has been spun and argued over and twisted and pushed and pulled in so many ways, so many times, that when we hear about it we glaze over and stop listening.
But here’s a very brief recap. A man went to jail for having a corrupt relationship with our then Deputy President, Jacob Zuma. This did not happen because a judge hit a table with a little wooden hammer and said “Guilty. Lock him up”. That’s not how the law works. What happened was that the judge, Hilary Squires, produced a 162 page judgement, detailing the reasons for his findings. It named the people involved, and listed the incidents in question, down to individual transactions. And then he said “Guilty. Lock him up”.
And then there was an appeal. And another group of judges said “Guilty. Lock him up”. And lock him up we did. For securing a bribe for Zuma. For making substantial loans to Zuma which he knew he could not repay. And then writing them off. He did it. And he went to jail for it. For a little while. Before he got sick. Shame.
And then the prosecutors turned on Zuma, the other half in this cosy little relationship. He was tried and thrown in jail, too. Oops. Sorry. He wasn’t. He never even went to trial. Some tapes, you see, turned up proving he was totally innocent. Or so we’re told. They’re a secret.
What this means is that any poor sausage that assumes the mantles of National Director of Public Prosecutions has to deal with a rather large elephant in the room. And it’s not just standing there quietly. It’s drunk. Ugly drunk. It’s throwing bottles around and swearing at children. And it’s on fire.
Our president has a case to answer to. There is simply no getting away from the fact. But he will not. He is the person who appoints the National Director of Public Prosecutions. And one of that lucky appointees unspoken duties is to not prosecute his appointer.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions has to stand up in front of the world and make impassioned speeches about rooting out corruption and dealing with the prominent issues and cases which are such an embarrassment to his department, all the while pretending that the elephant hasn’t just propositioned a nun and started to vomit rather copiously all over the constitution.
The good Mr Nxasana has made a damn good start. Last week, he tackled the elephant head on. Sort of. "In my view,” he said, “what is at the heart of the problems of the NPA at present, is those few so-called high profile cases.”
Yes, Mr Nxasana, that would be the heart of the problem.
"Obviously, there is a perception that has been created that the NPA is somehow trying to protect some high-ranking people," he said.
Yup. That is the perception. Although most of us wouldn’t have chosen the words “somehow trying”. Perhaps “blatantly continuing” would be more apt.
"I will be looking into those [cases] with the help of my deputies and try to improve the integrity and credibility of the NPA. Where harsh decisions have to be made, they will be made with a view to improve the image of the organisation", he continued. "I pledge my commitment to prosecute all cases, where there is sufficient and admissible evidence, without fear, favour or prejudice."
And then he demonstrated his commitment by appealing against the court ruling requiring him to reinstate the case against Richard Mdluli. Yup. Without fear, favour or prejudice, our new National Director of Public Prosecutions’ first order of business is to go to court in order to NOT prosecute the dodgy secret policeman widely reputed to be Zuma’s man.
Oh dear. Here we go again. The elephant is wearing a lamp-shade as a hat, and is shouting out rude limericks about a man from Nantucket. I hope no-one is going to let him drive home.
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