Why President Ramaphosa wants NDPP interviews held behind closed doors

2018-11-13 16:26
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: AFP)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: AFP)

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Ever since President Cyril Ramaphosa swept into office earlier this year, he's tried to do things differently to his predecessor - and mostly that's been a positive trait, well received by many South Africans.

While the president has projected an air of openness, his decision for a group of 12 people shortlisted for the vacant National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) job to be interviewed behind closed doors has caused much concern.

With memories of former president Jacob Zuma's fateful NDPP appointments - Menzi Simelane, Mxolisi Nxasana and Shaun Abrahams - still fresh in the minds of most, fears of a rigged, or at least flawed, process loom large.

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

The Right 2 Know (R2K) Campaign has taken the fight to Ramaphosa, hauling him to the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday to fight the closed-door nature of the hiring process.

R2K wants the president to allow 20 "accredited members of the media" to attend the interviews and to report on them.

It claims the matter is urgent as the interviews will begin on Wednesday. However, the Presidency says the application leaves little time to make any changes - should the order be granted - to prevent a delay in the start date.

In court papers, the Presidency says the president is following a "tight schedule" as he has to meet the Constitutional Court's deadline of appointing an NDPP by December 19.

On August 13, the apex court ruled that the appointment of Abrahams was unconstitutional and invalid.

The Presidency also says the interviewing panel needs to be able to engage in "detailed debate on sensitive NPA matters and investigations".

It further argues that R2K's acknowledgement that parts of the interviewing process may need to be conducted in private is "fatal" to its application.

The Presidency says while the Constitution and the National Prosecuting Authority Act gives the president the executive powers to appoint the NDPP, it does not "impose a qualification on the procedure or manner in which executive power is exercised."

The 12 people on the shortlist are:

  • South Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Andrew Chauke;
  • Glynnis Breytenbach, a career prosecutor who was a member of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit who also dealt with high-profile cases;
  • Andrea Johnson - who was advocate Gerrie Nel's co-prosecutor in the State's case against convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius;
  • Adv Silas Ramaite;
  • Advocate Moipone Noko, Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal;
  • Advocate M Makhari;
  • Advocate Rodney de Kock, Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions;
  • Pietermaritzburg advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa;
  • Former magistrate-turned-advocate Naomi Manaka;
  • Siyabulela Xhanti Mapoma;
  • Advocate Shamila Batohi, who was the lead prosecutor on the King Commission of Inquiry into match-fixing involving former Proteas captain Hansie Cronje; and
  • Advocate Matric Luphondo.

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