HSF, FUL jumping gun on NPA case, says Zuma
Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma said the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) are jumping the gun by turning to the court to have National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams and two other officials suspended, as he is dealing with the matter.
“The president is dealing with the matter. We say this application is premature,” Advocate Ishmael Semenya, acting for Zuma, on Thursday argued in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
He said Zuma gave Abrahams, Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions, Sibongile Mzinyathi and acting special director of public prosecutions, Dr Torie Pretorius, until November 28 to state reasons why they should not be suspended pending an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
“It is a serious matter which requires consideration. Now the court is asked to today say ' we suspend the three today, we won’t give you time', It goes against the rule of law and the separation of powers,” Semenya said
The application is premature, as come November 28, we will know whether the president will suspend them or not and whether he is going to hold inquiry into their fitness to hold office, he said.
Semenya said before hearing the three's responses as to why they should not be suspended, Zuma cannot make a decision.
“The president said he first wanted to hear them. That showed he is open-minded.”
Abrahams, Mzinyathi and Pretorius were instrumental in bringing charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Zuma issued them with letters earlier this month, stating that they have until the end of this month to give reasons as to why they should not be suspended pending an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
The applicants stated in their court papers that the reputation of the NPA and the rule of law were at risk if Abrahams was to continue holding office.
But in his affidavit Zuma said apart from the matter not being urgent, it is an abuse of the court process and at best for the applicants, premature, as he is dealing with the situation.
“To ask the court to substitute my decision and to make that decisions themselves, would amount to a breach of the rule of law…”
He accused the applicants of trying to govern through the courts. “The applicants are inviting the court to run the country through the courts.” He said the courts should not interfere in an ongoing process.
“The decision to provisionally suspend or to institute and enquiry, is based on the facts of the case…It is therefore a factual enquiry and no a legal one. Courts do not institute disciplinary proceedings, it only decide disputes that can be resolved by the application of law.”
Zuma made it clear that until he received all the facts and circumstances surrounding the Gordhan saga from Abrahams and the two other officials, neither he nor the courts were in a position to judge their fitness to hold office.
Abrahams, in his papers, accused the applicants of sour grapes. “They are simply unhappy with the fact that a decision was made to prosecute the minister,” he said.