Presidency: Public won't be privy to interviews for new NPA boss, experts express disappointment

2018-11-02 20:01
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Applications and nominations for a new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) close on Friday but the public won't be able to see the interview process. 

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed to News24 this week that the interviews would not be open to the public.

Diko did not want to provide further details. 

However, speaking to News24 on Friday, the executive secretary of Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Lawson Naidoo said conducting the interviews in public would "enhance" the process of finding a new National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head. 

"This is such an important and crucial office in the country and given the current state of the NPA, it [would] rebuild public trust in that institution," Naidoo said.  

READ: NDPP appointment process a step in the right direction - former NDPP Vusi Pikoli

"It would appear to make sense that the interviews are conducted in public so that South Africans can be ensured that the right person and the best person is chosen for the job. I think the secrecy will undermine the integrity of the process."  

'Candidates might not want to be interviewed in public'

Spokesperson for Society of State Advocates and Prosecutors of South Africa Elivera du Plooy also told News24 that the organisation was disappointed that it was not included in the process.

"We are concerned about the fact that we are excluded from the process and that it is not public hearings. It should be a transparent process and we are just disappointed," she said. 

"We believe that if the president and government feel that judges' appointments be made public then why not the NDPP – it is such an important position." 

Freedom Under Law chairperson Johann Kriegler also weighed in on the issue, saying in the interest of transparency, maximum public participation should be welcomed. 

However, Kriegler said some candidates might not wish to be interviewed in public.

"They [might] not want public speculation," he said. 

Unprecedented steps

The shortlisting and interviews will begin On November 5 and end by November 23.

The power to appoint and remove the head of the NPA is bestowed on the president. 

But the advisory panel President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed to identify candidates and conduct interviews for the position, has decided to take a different – and unprecedented – route.

ALSO READ: Radebe to head panel in search for new NPA boss

Diko said earlier that the panel agreed on a framework to ensure that worthy people shortlisted were appropriately vetted before recommendations were sent to the president for consideration. 

Diko said assessments by the panel and the finalisation of its recommendations would take place from November 23 to 30, following the shortlisting of candidates.

"The panel unanimously decided that interested persons and organisations will be invited to identify to the panel persons who should be considered for appointment through an advertisement in the media calling for nominations/applications," Diko said at the time.

Makwetu, Roux on panel

The panel also decided on the time frames for work to be completed.

She said the panel agreed to submit names of shortlisted candidates to Ramaphosa by December 7.

Among those on the panel, chaired by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, is Auditor General Thembekile Makwetu and General Council of the Bar of South Africa representative advocate Barry Roux.

The panel is to complete its work within a timeline that allows Ramaphosa to comply with a deadline set by the Constitutional Court to appoint a new National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The court gave Ramaphosa 90 court days after making its ruling on August 13.

At the time, the highest court in the land ruled that the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as NPA head was unconstitutional and invalid.

Read more on:    npa  |  nddp  |  elivera du plooy  |  thembekile makwetu  |  cyril ramaphosa

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