Jiba and Mrwebi peddled misinformation to Zuma - former NPA head testifies

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)

Former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana claims former president Jacob Zuma knew about an "orchestrated" campaign against him in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), led by Nomgcobo Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi and Sibongile Mzinyathi.

Testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday, Nxasana detailed his efforts to compel Zuma to intervene in what he called interference in the NPA by the former officials.

As part of this, Nxasana told the commission that Jiba and Mrwebi peddled misinformation to Zuma that Nxasana was going to reinstate charges against him. However, Nxasana said he never intended to do this.

Despite Nxasana's efforts to arrange a meeting between himself and Zuma to clarify the issue, Zuma was not interested in seeing him, he said.

Nxasana told the commission that he resorted to stopping Michael Hulley, Zuma's former lawyer, on the N1 highway to try get him to arrange a meeting.

READ: Jiba tried to dig up dirt on her NPA boss Nxasana, state capture inquiry hears

It was also during this time that Zuma allegedly wanted to suspend Nxasana pending the outcome of a commission of inquiry into Nxasana's fitness to hold office – which Zuma himself established.

Nxasana said iit was only when he applied to interdict the suspension that Zuma agreed to meet with him.

"It was a very strange and trying moment for me," Nxasana said as he tried to fend off rumours about him.

When he and Zuma finally met, Nxasana said he tried to explain himself – that there was a campaign against him that started before he took up office.

Nxasana added that Jiba and Mrwebi were behind the campaign. However, Zuma did not reply.

Jiba was resentful

Despite Jiba's alleged efforts to oust him, Nxasana said it was not a personal feud, but a professional one.

"It became clear to me that Jiba was resentful," Nxasana told the commission.

He said they did not know each other so she could not hate him.

He testified that he tried to reconcile with Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi.

ANALYSIS: Understand Mokgoro's report into Jiba, Mrwebi

He asked Jiba for coffee to talk about the situation. However, Jiba just smiled and did not reply, the commission heard.

Nxasana explained that Jiba was resentful because former Minister of Justice Michael Masutha had promised her that he would recommend her to Zuma for the NDPP job.

He wrote a memorandum to Zuma, but Nxasana was appointed instead.

Efforts to clean up

Feeling a sense of interference and derailment at the NPA, Nxasana said he tried to embark on a fact-finding mission at the NPA.

He obtained a legal opinion from Patrick Elis SC and then appointed a "fact-finding commission", headed by retired Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob.

He gave instructions to everyone to cooperate with the commission, however, he said Yacoob found resistance in Jiba and Mrwebi.

Nxasana added that in March 2014 he had also written to Zuma requesting him to institute disciplinary action against Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi. He received a reply from Masutha, who asked him what measures he had taken to remedy the situation first.

It was only a few months later, in June 2014, at an NPA workshop in Emperor’s Palace, when Masutha told Nxasana that Zuma had agreed to intervene.

However, this never happened.

Instead, a month later, Zuma informed Nxasana that he had established a commission of inquiry into Nxasana’s fitness to hold office.

The inquiry was based on Nxasana's "violent conduct", a previous assault conviction, his comments to the media and his alleged failure to disclose past criminal convictions.

While Nxasana wrote to Zuma and asked him to clarify these points, Zuma did not do so.

Zuma later suspended Nxasana pending the outcome of the inquiry and called on him to make submissions as to why he should not be suspended. 

The commission's evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, told Zondo that they would need to take an early lunch to go over the evidence as people would be "seriously" implicated.

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