Zuma accepts Simelane ruling, appoints Jiba

2011-12-28 22:15

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday accepted the court ruling that struck down his appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions, and named Simelane's deputy Nomgcobo Jiba to act in the post.

"President Jacob Zuma accepts the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal which declared the appointment of the national director for public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, invalid," his office said.

"The president has therefore decided not to appeal the decision."

A letter to the Constitutional Court signalling this decision, and obtained by Sapa, is dated December 23.

This shows that the president's U-turn came just a day after the government filed papers with the Constitutional Court last week opposing the ruling.

His choice of replacement could prove controversial.

Jiba earlier this month briefly acted as head of the special investigating unit after Willem Heath quit.

But she was abruptly replaced with Advocate Nomvula Mokhatla amid reports that Justice Minister Jeff Radebe had failed to consult Zuma before naming her. Radebe denied this.

Jiba was previously suspended from the national prosecuting authority after allegedly assisting a police investigation into her colleague and senior prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

The presidency said Simelane had been placed on special leave pending a review by the Constitutional Court of the December 1 ruling that declared his appointment by Zuma two years ago unconstitutional.

The appeal court found that Zuma and Radebe failed to consider misgivings about Simelane, expressed by the Ginwala Inquiry into the fitness of his sidelined predecessor Vusi Pikoli to hold office.

It added that even if the president had duly weighed those concerns, he could not have concluded that Simelane was suitable for the post.

"On the available evidence, the president could in any event not have reached a conclusion favourable to Mr Simelane, as there were too many unresolved questions concerning his integrity and experience," Judge Mahomed Navsa said.

"The president took a decision in respect of which he ignored relevant considerations. By doing so he misconstrued his powers and acted irrationally."

The unanimous appeal court ruling is set for review by the Constitutional Court.

This is required in terms of section 167 (5) of the Constitution which stipulates that a finding that legislation or an act by the president is unconstitutional only comes into force once it is confirmed by the higher court.

However, last Thursday Zuma, Radebe, the National Prosecuting Authority and Simelane filed papers contesting the appeal court ruling.

Legal experts described the government's decision to term its written submissions to the court an appeal as confusing, given the fact that the law necessitates an automatic review.

The next day, Zuma served notice to the Constitutional Court that he was withdrawing his application and would not oppose confirmation of the appeal court ruling.

The Democratic Alliance, which launched the successful two-year court bid to unseat Simelane, on Wednesday welcomed the president's change of heart and said it hoped he would appoint "someone of unimpeachable character and proven experience".

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj indicated that despite Zuma's decision, Radebe would seek clarity from the Constitutional Court on issues raised in the appeal court judgment.

"Mr Jeff Radebe will pursue the matter, seeking clarity on various issues in the course of the mandatory Constitutional Court certification process, with the full support of the President."

Radebe's spokesperson was not available for comment.

The Constitutional Court said last week it had yet to set a date to hear the matter.

  • Saksak Motsepe - 2011-12-28 22:48

    Another actor?

  • Phill - 2011-12-28 23:46

    It was always coming. it seems every decision taken by Zuma cannnot stand the test of scrutiny. Are we supposed to take him seriuosly? I feel pity for the likes of Maharaj, Manyi, Jackson Mnthembu, Keith khoza and Mathole Motshekga who are supposed to dutifully defend the indefensible. Is this the man who is supposed to serve a second term? He reminds me of the the Late Patrick Mphephu| Well, indeed, history has a funny way of repeating itself.

  • kgomotso.radise - 2011-12-28 23:50

    The so called consultation by JZ proves otherwise & it’s cumbersome to action taking. When DA was advocating and calling Simelane head it was like they are against JZ. But I guess it is within his prerogatives to make appointment of judicial strategic position. The withdrawals of court application from constitutional court by JZ, leave much to be desired. Does that mean Chief Justice Mogoeng mogoeng is next casualty that remains to be seen.

      Sharon - 2011-12-28 23:58

      I sincerely hope so

  • Chaapo - 2011-12-29 00:25

    Seems like Zuma is running out of appointees without controversies following them. That appears to be the character of the ANC in the upper echelons so all bets are off whether this new recruit will survive the scrutiny. Rotten fish the ANC from the hard to the tail.

  • Roy - 2011-12-29 05:17

    Watch Simelane's next move. This is how the government works. Nominate a ANC cadre into an important position and the public complain. Zuma then has to "fire" that person. This person sues the government for millions and walks away a rich man. This country is F-----d.

  • braamc - 2011-12-29 05:40

    Is it that difficult to get a "clean and honest" person for the job. Your cadre strategy now done Zuma. You pathetic

      George - 2011-12-29 06:51

      Sounds like they are all SABS approved

  • braamc - 2011-12-29 05:43

    Will do anything to hide the dirt. The ANC, JZ in particular is so filthy, shocking. Now get a "clean and honest" person for the job, something certainly not available in the ranks of the ANC there family and friendship circles.

  • AyGeewils - 2011-12-29 05:45

    This could be a triumph for the rule of law - but don't hold your breath. It does not remove the fact that Zuma THE PRESIDENT has no regard for it in the first place and all the millions spent on advisors ect. ect. is a complete waste - he does not bother to use them!

      AyGeewils - 2011-12-29 05:50

      I wonder how much this little fiasco has cost?!

  • PaasHaas - 2011-12-29 06:07

    If anyone is to follow Simelane into the Wilderness it should be Justice Minister Jeff Radebe. This clown consistantly gives the President poor advice regarding appointments. If anyone has succeeded in creating the impression that SA has a third world justice system, its Jeff.

  • raymond.kok3 - 2011-12-29 06:08


  • Wendy - 2011-12-29 06:10

    So ... how much did this all cost the taxpayers?

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