OUR VIEWPOINT: A great challenge for next NDPP

2015-05-12 15:04
Mxolisi Nxasana (Picture: City Press)

Mxolisi Nxasana (Picture: City Press)

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BRAVE, or perhaps foolhardy, will be the person who agrees to become the next National Director of Public Prosecutions — a role that has time and again proved to be a poisoned chalice for the incumbent.

The director and his/her decisions are supposed to be independent, but only the naive would believe that it is always the case.

And in South Africa, the incumbent holds special significance for President Jacob Zuma, who has hundreds of charges hanging over his head.

It is interesting to note that Mxolisi Nxasana’s suitability for the director’s post was only recently called into question. Not at the time he was being appointed when, logically, one would expect a proper background check to have been done, especially in a crucial position such as the National Director of Public Prosecutions — who must be a person beyond reproach.

It is difficult to believe that Zuma was unaware at the time of appointing Nxasana that he had previous separate convictions of assault, or that there had been complaints of professional misconduct laid against him with the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society; yet he appointed him. So why did Zuma authorise an inquiry into Nxasana’s fitness to hold office, and then suddenly change his mind the night before the inquiry was due to commence?

Commentary in the wake of the surprise about-turn pointed to Nxasana probably being too independent-minded for Zuma’s purpose, and unable to be trusted with making the right decisions, especially where it concerns the president’s interests.

A statement was released from Zuma’s office that “the president is currently engaging with Mr Nxasana with a view to taking decisions which are in the best interest of the National Prosecuting Authority, Mr Nxasana and the country at large”. This should be interpreted — with good reason given recent experience (think of Anwa Dramat and Ivan Pillay) — to mean that an exit package is being negotiated.

With the country’s prosecutions head seemingly on his way out, attention must now turn to the deputy.

Unfortunately, in this case it is the controversial Nomgcobo Jiba, who has fraud and perjury charges hanging over her own head.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the chaos in the country’s prosecutions and security apparatus give good reason to question the ability of either to act impartially or effectively

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