Menzi Simelane ruling a victory: DA
Cape Town - The Supreme Court of Appeal's (SCA) ruling that National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Menzi Simelane's appointment is invalid is a victory for constitutional democracy, the DA said on Thursday.
Given the court's emphatic ruling, the Democratic Alliance hoped President Jacob Zuma would do the right thing and relieve Simelane of his duties, party leader Helen Zille told reporters at Parliament.
In his ruling, Judge Mohammed Navsa set aside Simelane's December 2009 appointment by Zuma on the basis that it was "inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid".
It ordered the president, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, and Simelane to jointly pay all costs related to the case in both the SCA and the earlier hearing in the North Gauteng High Court.
Zille said Navsa was scathing in his dismissal of Zuma's arguments.
For example, he said: "I accept that the president is a very busy man, however, when he is dealing with an office as important as the NDPP, then time should be taken to get it right.
"The minister and the president both made material errors of fact and law in the process leading up to the appointment of Mr Simelane.
"It is clear that the president did not undertake a proper inquiry... On the available evidence, the president could not have reached a conclusion favourable to Mr Simelane, as there were too many questions concerning his integrity and experience."
Zille said the DA had opposed Simelane's "unconstitutional and unlawful" appointment from the outset.
Simelane was on record as believing, among other things, that the NDPP should be accountable to the director general of justice and not be independent, as required by the Constitution.
He had also disputed that the Constitution guaranteed the independence of the NPA, and stated it was legitimate for the minister to determine whether a prosecution was in the public interest and should proceed or not.
Zille said: "The president, in our view, appointed Mr Simelane because he needed an NDPP that had proven to be pliant to the wishes of the executive."
This was part of the "Zumafication" of state institutions to shield the president, Zille said.
"It followed the suspension of Vusi Pikoli, who refused to bow to the president’s wishes, and the subsequent inexplicable decision of acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe to drop the corruption charges against Zuma on the eve of the 2009 election."
That was why Thursday's judgment was of such profound significance.
"It shows that our constitutional democracy can work to prevent the interference of politicians in our state institutions designed to protect people against power abuse," Zille said.
However, this was not the end of the matter.
The SCA’s judgment would now go to the Constitutional Court for confirmation and Zuma and Simelane had the right to lodge an appeal.
The case was likely to be heard in the new year, Zille said.