The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, late yesterday ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to hold the interviews in an open venue and that the media be allowed to attend.
This groundbreaking and precedent-setting ruling for transparency came on the eve of Ramaphosa’s proposed interviewing process, due to start today and expected to end on Friday. Counsel acting for the president, however, said the venue was too small and the interviews had been put on hold until a new venue was found.
Ramaphosa indicated earlier this month that he and a panel of seven members of the criminal justice system would conduct the interviews of the 12 candidates behind closed doors.
The Right2Know (R2K) Campaign turned to the court to obtain an urgent order to allow the media access to the proceedings.
It argued that the president had declared that the interviews had to be closed to the public, which was contradictory to an open and transparent society.
Advocate Ben Winks told Judge Johan Louw that while the process of choosing an NDPP was never open in the past history lessons were that it should be a transparent process.
He referred to the fact that two NDPP appointments had been set aside in the past because of irregularities. Winks asked the court to direct the president to leave the interviews open to the public, through the media, as the public had a right to know.
Winks said there should be a balance and whenever the president and his panel felt sensitive information was being discussed, the media could be asked to leave the room.
It was argued on behalf of the president that he had the power to decide how the process should take place. Ramaphosa’s stance was that he did appoint the panel to assist him, thus making the interviews an open and transparent process.
Judge Johan Louw, in granting the order that the process be open to the media, said given the history of appointing past NDPPs, it was important that the process be open to restore confidence in that office.