Simelane ruling 'a setback for Zuma'

2011-12-02 08:49

Johannesburg - Newspaper editorials on Friday saw the ruling against Menzi Simelane's appointment as prosecution head as an embarrassing setback for President Jacob Zuma.

They concluded the ruling would negatively impact Zuma's alleged disregard for judiciary procedure, and his effort to appoint trusted allies into positions of power.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled on Thursday that the appointment of Simelane as head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2009 was invalid.

It found Zuma had failed to "apply his mind properly" because he ignored concerns raised about Simelane's integrity.

Allies and comrades

The Times wrote the ruling was significant and embarrassing because it followed Zuma's recent appointment of close ally Willem Heath to head the Special Investigating Unit.

"It is Zuma's prerogative to appoint allies and trusted comrades... but in a constitutional democracy such as ours he simply cannot play fast and loose with state institutions whose independence is underpinned but the supreme law of the land," it wrote.

Business Day said the ruling would impact Zuma's "single-minded effort to surround himself with people he can trust to ensure he never has to account for his past actions.

"There is a gaping hole in the fortress he has put effort into erecting around himself and closing it with someone else who can be relied upon will not be as easy as it initially seems," it wrote.

It said Zuma was unconcerned with the legality of his executive decisions.

"They are merely a means to an end, that end being his [Zuma's] political survival."

It said the overturning of Zuma's decisions by courts had resulted in friction between the executive and judiciary.

"The message from the Zuma administration is clear: it has been democratically elected and should be left to govern as it sees fit, without interference from the judiciary."


The Mail and Guardian saw the ruling as the court's response to escalating political attacks on the role of the judiciary.

"The basic thrust of [Zuma's] argument is crude and clear: the majority party and its president were chosen by the people and that mandate is a grant of authority that ought to supersede all else," the editorial reads.

"The idea that underpins these propositions is that the Constitution represents a compromise by the ANC, a surrender of both power and principle at the negotiating table that should now be reversed."

It said the proposition was "a falsification of history" because the ANC's own team insisted on the deep, rights-based structure of the law during constitutional negotiations.

According to the Citizen Simelane was appointed because he was willing to bow to the will of the executive.

"Yesterday's ruling seriously rattles Zuma's cage. If it stands, it could make him vulnerable again.

"The situation is dire. Because Zuma has acted in his own interests and not those of the country, we have a hobbled prosecuting authority."

On Thursday, the justice ministry said Simelane would not vacate the post he had occupied for the past two years, pending a review of the ruling by the Constitutional Court.

"Advocate Simelane does not immediately have to vacate his post until the Constitutional Court hears the matter and decides whether to confirm the ruling or not," justice ministry spokesperson Tlali Tlali said.

The position is based on section 167(5) of the Constitution, which gives the country's highest court the final say on whether a law or act of the president is unconstitutional. A court ruling in this regard therefore has no force until it is confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

  • JMan - 2011-12-02 08:57

    "It found Zuma had failed to "apply his mind properly" {..}.." ... ja nee.

      Ovie - 2011-12-02 09:02

      What mind?

      John - 2011-12-02 09:19

      of coarse its a set back,not the first and wont be the last.

      Kate - 2011-12-02 09:31

      I just want to know, with all these ally appointments, what he is protecting himself from...

      Breedlike - 2011-12-02 09:47


      Poloyatonki - 2011-12-02 09:57

      @Colourless...Zuma's hands are clean he has nothing to hide... Even DA appoints only those loyal to them so stop making it a big deal man please..

      Ryan - 2011-12-02 10:05

      isn't it pathetic to have a president who's main motivation for being there is for his and his family's benefit and not the benefit of the country. in fact, he clearly goes and does things that harms the country. unbelievable

      Cracker - 2011-12-02 10:24

      @ Poly... "Just 38 when appointed to head the NPA, Simelane had practised as an advocate for only two years. He had held positions at the Competition Commission and the Department of Justice - neither of which involved court work, nor investigations and prosecutions. The DA said Simelane had served the NPA for only about six weeks as one of four deputies and had "extremely limited experience". His CV was shoddily prepared and was full of spelling and other errors. ______________________________________________________________________ Clean hands? Then explain how someone with such a history can qualify for such an important position. This country will slowly but surely rid the country of the unsavory appointments. We may be glued to our TV's in future like this morning when they show us in live visual the Supreme Court of Appeal rejecting the one appeal after the other of current high rollers in our politics.

  • TheSkepticDetective - 2011-12-02 09:13

    Well, this follows a trend. Zuma unilaterally appoints Mogoeng Mogoeng as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, forces the Protection of Corrupt Politicians Bill through Parliament. He just doesn't care whether or not he is running rough-shod over the rights of the people, as long as he stays in power. None of this worries me as much as this statement: "The idea that underpins these propositions is that the Constitution represents a compromise by the ANC, a surrender of both power and principle at the negotiating table that should now be reversed." Oh Boy!

      Squatter - 2011-12-02 09:32

      Skeptic it is not so much a case of him wanting to hold on to power, it who is behind him wanting him in power so they can continue with their corrupt activities. I'm talking about the Shaik Mafia. This country will be mortified if they know what Shaik holds in foreign bank accounts. This "democracy" has made him the wealthiest man in South Africa and they don't even know it. Shaik was very clever when he funded Zuma's extravagant lifestyle with the multiple wives and paying school fees for all those dozens of kids. We are slowly heading towards a situation where these people will have their foreign assets frozen and it couldn't come a day too soon now.

  • CALAMITYSA - 2011-12-02 09:14

    We all new it. It's not a surprise. Hopefully the president and the ANC will NOT ARGUE or try to DEBATE the issue. Wrong is wrong. Of course, there is an option - change the constitution. Please don't consider it - it will just confirm my permanent statement - IT IS AFRICAN CULTURE AND WILL TAKE LONGER TO CHANGE THAN EVOLUTION. Please do not ignore the wrongs and try to justify it with "majority voted for ANC". This is not only a political matter. It is HUMAN RIGHTS as well.

  • msendi - 2011-12-02 09:17

    And some pathetic loosers call South Africa, a 'banana republic'. Show me one 'banana republic where a President's decision can be challenged successfully… GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA…

      Andres - 2011-12-02 09:35

      Agree somewhat... However it is deeply concerning that South Africa's citizens need to be "protected" from the Presidency and the Legislature by the Judiciary. It's becoming glaringly clear, the constitution and judiciary is the only thing holding the ruling party back from creating a hegemonic hold on supreme power, turning a democracy into a de facto autocratic one-party state. Our constitution is universally considered the most progressive in the world. If the ruling party sees it as a "hindrance," they therefore see the interests of the SA citizen as a "hindrance." Unfortunately, the only cure for political abuse of power is the threat of being voted out. We as citizens have to stand together to show them South Africans come first and political party MUST come second.

      H - 2011-12-02 09:47

      I'll give you an "amen" on that, msendi. As long as our democratic institutions function as intended, then we all have a reason to continue participating in the development of our joint future. Yes, there are serious problems at the moment, but not insurmountable. Let us stand firm in defence of our young democracy. God bless South Africa.

      Leon - 2011-12-02 09:48

      will zuma also be recalled like his predecessor? will he step down. if i'm not mistaken this is not the first court ruling against a zuma decision. he is clearly both acting in his own best interest and against the constitution he was sworn to abide by. an immediate resignation/recall in my book!

      Leon - 2011-12-02 09:53

      Furthermore, this means al work done by the head of public prosecution for the past 24 months will have to be reviewed. that at a huge cost tot he tax payer while i wonder how many real criminals are walking free or will now go free or challenge their prosecution because zuma wanted to save is own arse. both Simelane and Zuma should resign immediately.

      PB - 2011-12-02 10:03

      Msendi, this setback just cancelled one of the dozens of moves jz has made (appointing judge moegoe, getting the secrecy bill passed regardless of the citizens' opinions etc.)to make him and his cronies bulletproof. There are a hell of a lot more that needs to be done to protect US from the Criminals in the Government - they don't care at all what rights are being trashed in the process of steeling their way through South Africa.

      MastersVoice - 2011-12-02 15:21

      msendi - I suppose time will tell. In a banana republic, the way to deal with such setbacks is to amend the law. Zuma has already shown he is happy to create laws that will suite him better (Info Bill), so I won't be surprised if he decides to change the law to give him full power on these appointments.

  • braamc - 2011-12-02 09:24

    Zuma and the rest of the corrupt thieves in government think they are above the law, they anyhow just do whatever they like. Seriously time that this injustice and self enrichment and disregard for the people of SA ends, can't be sooner than later

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-02 09:36

    Misleading headline, There would be not setback if Zuma as President had any respect for the rule of law, something him and the ANC do not have. Once the national IQ level reaches 25 people will be clever enough not to continue voting the ANC into power.

  • Susan - 2011-12-02 09:37

    Zuma is an embarrasment for this whole country.

      Poloyatonki - 2011-12-02 09:53

      I disagree with your statement, the real embarrassment is that Muslim Judge who thinks he can over turn the decision made by a group of experts, intellectuals and professionals to appoint Simelane. Who does he think he is really?

      Andres - 2011-12-02 09:57

      Poloyatonki: Very uncalled for comment, what does the judge's religious beliefs have to do with anything?

      Ryan - 2011-12-02 10:41

      @ Poloyadonki ... with thinking like that you'll never be more than just another AA, BEE, ANC clown

      J-Man - 2011-12-02 11:25

      @ poloy: "{..}decision made by a group of 'experts, intellectuals and professionals'{..}" ... and they STILL got it wrong..HAHAHAHHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!!

      Gary - 2011-12-02 12:04

      Comrades..(lol).. don't get fooled by this poloyatonki chop. He is just trying to be controversial and incite argument... I'm mean surely he is playing a game - it is not possible for someone to be THAT stupid.

      Sharon - 2011-12-02 12:30

      @ polly your definition of an expert leaves a lot to be desired,ex is an unknown quantity and a spurt is a drip under pressure

  • Jos - 2011-12-02 09:41

    Now this is a constitutional democracy at work. I like it when the president's decision can also be challenged.

  • NickinHowick - 2011-12-02 09:47

    Yes, serious changes are needed, but how? The ANC is kept it's voters pool illiterate and uninformed and continues to do it. It is just a desperate need they have to stay in power. Truth and human rights have been cast aside. So much so that they want to have a look at the Concourt and manipulate it's findings.

      Ryan - 2011-12-02 10:44

      Not only that, but these poor fools still vote for the party that they consider liberated them, nevermind anything else. and along racial lines. talk about living in the past.

  • Deeteem - 2011-12-02 09:48

    He is embarrassing finish and klaar !!

  • Erich - 2011-12-02 09:51

    A President is only a human being and will display the same flaws and incompetence as other human beings. Having said that, a President is in the unique situation that he should realise his shortcomings and compensate for that by appointing the best advisers on whose advice he should base his actions. The problem Mr Zuma made is that his judgement was clouded by attaching too much value to those who were with him in the struggle, most of them who are equally ill-equipped to handle complicated situations. In this game one should reward your cronies by rather offering them diplomatic posts or other jobs where less harm can be done and get the best law and financial advisers money can buy. Equally, get people to head key departments such as Health, Education, Law and Order. He displayed a serious lack of judgement when appointing the wrong persons and this, in the final analysis, reflected bad on him.

  • Aubrey - 2011-12-02 10:06


  • Cracker - 2011-12-02 10:14

    "Just 38 when appointed to head the NPA, Simelane had practised as an advocate for only two years. He had held positions at the Competition Commission and the Department of Justice - neither of which involved court work, nor investigations and prosecutions. The DA said Simelane had served the NPA for only about six weeks as one of four deputies and had "extremely limited experience". His CV was shoddily prepared and was full of spelling and other errors." ______________________________________________________________________ What were the real reasons for Simelane getting the job? It cannot possibly be the attributes associated even in the minds of the most ignorant or illiterate with the important position.

  • An observer - 2011-12-02 18:46

    People, we are a constitutional democracy and not a parliamentary democracy (as in the days of the Nationalist Party). The distinction is subtle but important to be understood. I am standing on my table cheering the the Supreme Court of Appeal. Many of the Laws passed by parliament in the last 17 years are unconstitutional, but it takes people, funding, leadership and effort to overturn them. We need more guardians (and funders) of our democracy. Any takers?

  • Winifred - 2011-12-03 11:25

    jeez.....these people have ADVISERS same nonsense as the Cricket Board please CONSULT with them. Zuma did not apply his mind when he made the decision......ha ha ha hee heee heeeeeeee classic must remember to use this excuse when next I get into trouble. CEO'S not TRAINED ...PRESIDENT NOT APPLYING HIS MIND.... WHAT THE HECK IS A BOARD OF DIRECTORS ETC BEING PAID TO DO. YIKES we are making ourselves a laughing stock of a nation just EXCUSES for everything but have to give them CREDIT for the priceless excuses they come up with.

  • Raul - 2011-12-22 20:48

    He had so many setbacks already! Not surprising he is becoming dysfunctional. Every time he makes a decison or opens his mouth is a setback.

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