Zuma wanted Muofhe to head NPA but Jiba would call the shots, inquiry hears
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Johannesburg - Former adviser in the department of mineral resources Mahlodi Muofhe says former president Jacob Zuma wanted to appoint him as NPA boss, but he refused as he was concerned about Zuma’s possible interference.
Muofhe, who was the adviser to former minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, said Zuma was on the cusp of appointing him as the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) in 2015 after former NPA boss Mxolisi Nxasana left the job following an agreement with the president.
Muofhe was giving testimony at the Zondo commission on Wednesday.
He said former minister of police Nathi Nhleko had facilitated his meeting with Zuma at the latter's official residence in Pretoria in 2015.
He said Zuma told him during the meeting that he wanted to appoint him as the new NPA boss.
Muofhe said he asked Zuma a series of questions on why he wanted to appoint him and what Nxasana had done wrong to prompt his departure.
“In attendance were former state president Zuma and former minister Nhleko and myself. Former president opened the discussion with the real reason for the meeting. He wanted me to go and direct the NPA,” he said.
“During the time among the few questions that I asked was why me? What wrong did the person, Nxasana, I was going to replace do as director of the NPA so that I do not commit the same wrongs? Mr president what will happen if I were to charge you personally as state president for criminal offences?” he asked.
“The former president said he needed an excellent experienced senior disciplined government official like me who will not cow down to undue pressure”.
The former public servant said he was most concerned about Zuma’s reasons for Nxasana’s removal as it meant he was interfering in the running of the NPA.
“On Nxasana, the former president said Nxasana had charged Ms (Nomgcobo) Jiba unnecessarily and his reckless act unsettled the NPA in no small measure. On prosecuting the former president, he assured me that he would not interfere with prosecutorial independence,” said Muofhe.
He said in taking the job he would, in fact, be in the position legally but Jiba would be the real boss calling shots.
“I was really disturbed by the reason he gave me on why Mr Nxasana was fired. I felt that the former president, as much as he reassured me that he would not interfere with my prosecutorial independence, he simply wanted me to be the de jure director of the NPA with Ms Jiba as the de facto director and that I was not going to accept,” he said.
Nxasana left the NPA in 2015 after escaping an inquiry into his fitness hold office, which was scrapped after he signed a deal with Zuma which saw him receive a golden handshake of over R15 million. He was replaced by Shaun Abrahams.
Earlier this year the Constitutional Court found that Abrahams' appointment was illegal and also found the gold handshake that Nxasana received as inappropriate.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was tasked with appointing a new NPA boss after Abrahams’ appointment was nullified.
Meanwhile, Jiba is facing an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
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