‘Zuma lied – I never asked to leave my job’

2017-04-16 06:01
Mxolisi Nxasana

Mxolisi Nxasana

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Former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Mxolisi Nxasana has disputed President Jacob Zuma’s claim that he had requested to leave his powerful job, a move which could lead to the president appearing in court to testify.

Nxasana did not mince his words when responding to a claim made by Zuma that he had “requested” to leave office, saying the president’s version was “false”.

“To be crystal clear, I never requested that the president allow me to vacate the office of the NDPP [national director of public prosecutions].”

“The president is not above the law. I have nothing to hide,” said Nxasana, adding that he was prepared to testify about this matter in court.

Nxasana this week filed the affidavit in support of a court application by Corruption Watch and Freedom Under Law, who are asking the court that Nxasana be reappointed and that he pay back the golden handshake of R17.3 million that was paid to him.

In a sworn affidavit, Nxasana has accused Zuma of lying under oath in relation to the way a settlement agreement between them was reached in 2015.

At the time of his resignation, Nxasana was locked in a bitter power struggle with Nomgcobo Jiba, one of the NPA’s deputies and former acting national director of public prosecutions.

Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, head of the commercial crimes unit, were eventually struck from the roll of advocates by the Pretoria High Court in relation to, among other things, their conduct in another Freedom Under Law application in which the organisation asked the court to set aside the NPA’s decision to drop corruption and murder charges against former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

They are appealing it.

Glynnis Breytenbach, former head of the specialised commercial crimes unit in Pretoria and now a DA MP, has consistently maintained that the decision to drop charges against Mdluli was manipulated for political purposes.

Shaun Abrahams was appointed in Nxasana’s place in July last year and one of Abrahams’ first decisions was to withdraw criminal charges that Nxasana had laid against Jiba and Mrwebi.

Nxasana further said Michael Hulley, the president’s legal adviser, had wanted him to state under oath that he requested that the president allow him to vacate the office in accordance with the NPA Act.

However, he refused, because that is not what happened.

It [the affidavit] also contains details of a meeting where Zuma peppered him with questions about Bulelani Ngcuka, the first national director of public prosecutions, who was initially involved in the corruption investigation into Zuma.

Nxasana alleged that Zuma told him in isiZulu that when he heard Ngcuka’s name, it made him “crazy”.

Theo Venter, political analyst at North-West University, said the “allegations that Zuma lied under oath are just as serious as the Constitutional Court’s findings, in the Nkandla case, that he did not comply with his constitutional duty.”

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, also said these were “serious charges hanging over Zuma’s head”.

“If he is found guilty of perjury and intentionally lied or made misrepresentations, he may even end up behind bars,” said Lewis.

According to Lewis, Corruption Watch had joined that matter to show how Zuma appointed unfit people to lead the NPA and gets rid of people to prevent being prosecuted.

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