Nxasana's 'golden handshake' not what it seems, Zondo commission hears

Former national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Thapelo Morebudi/Gallo Images)
Former national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Thapelo Morebudi/Gallo Images)

A concerted campaign against former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana to oust him from his position culminated in him conceding he would only go if he was paid out for the remainder of his term.

Nxasana, who was testifying at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday, spoke about the two-year battle with now disgraced former NPA officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi who were gunning for his job.

He also detailed his struggle to get former president Jacob Zuma on his side.

While Nxasana said it was difficult to meet with Zuma - at one point resorting to pulling his lawyer over on the side of the N1 highway - he repeatedly told Zuma there was "a campaign" against him at the NPA involving Jiba and Mrwebi who were also misleading Zuma with rumours.

He brought this to the attention of former justice ministers Jeff Radebe and Michael Masutha without success and subsequently expressed disappointment at how they were handling his matter, telling Masutha "he was taking sides".

"They had already made up their minds that they wanted me to leave," Nxasana told the commission.

He added he had told Zuma, prior to his establishment of the commission of inquiry into the fitness of Nxasana to hold office, the commission would not find anything on him.

"I remained steadfast and always told him that there was no reason for me to leave. I kept on repeating myself that this was a campaign against me by these individuals."

This lasted until late 2014, when Nxasana conceded the only way he would step down is if they paid him out for the rest of his term.

He said this was because he believed it was not necessary for him to leave and he would not leave willingly.

Nxasana added a settlement proposal was then made in terms of the NPA Act as well as Public Finance Management Act.

He said he had rejected the first offer because it implied he was willingly stepping down, but eventually a settlement was reached.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled Zuma had abused his powers when he used a R17m golden handshake to get rid of Nxasana and appoint Shaun Abrahams instead.

The court ruled the payment was unlawful and ordered Nxasana to repay R10m, which was the amount he received after tax.

In Nxasana's mind, however, this was not a golden handshake, but instead, he understood it to be based on the "the fact that they wanted me to resign" and he therefore wanted them to pay him for the remainder of his term, he told the commission.

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