THE search is on for a new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), after the Constitutional Court yesterday delivered yet another damning judgment against former president Jacob Zuma.
This time around the apex court in the land found that Zuma had abused power and state resources in his desperate bid to anoint a pliant NDPP in actions that have compromised the integrity of the office and brought instability to the prosecuting body.
The matter related to the 2015 controversial removal by Zuma of former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana and the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as the NDPP.
Corruption Watch and Freedom Under Law wanted confirmation of declarations of invalidity by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, including the invalidity of the R17.3million golden handshake through which Nxasana agreed to vacate office.
Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said Zuma had acted illegally and compromised the integrity of the prosecuting authority by removing Nxasana and replacing him with Abrahams, whom he ordered to vacate office.
“The removal was an abuse of power. Advocate Abrahams benefited from abuse of power.
"It matters not that he may not have been aware of the abuse of power.
"The rule of law dictates that the office be cleansed of all the ills that have plagued it for the past few years,” Justice Madlanga said.
Zuma - who was found to have violated his oath of office in the Nkandla matter by the ConCourt - was prepared to consider any amount of money or employ whatever tactic he could muster in his determined bid to get rid of Nxasana, Justice Madlanga said.
“There was first the notification that Nxasana would be subjected to an inquiry with a view to establishing whether he was still fit and proper to hold office.
"Concomitantly, there was a threat of suspension pending finalisation of the inquiry, albeit with full pay.
" This was followed by former president Zuma’s proposal that there be mediation,” Justice Madlanga said.
He said that when all else failed, Zuma instituted the inquiry but still pursued a parallel process in which he offered Nxasana R10m to walk away, which the prosecutor rejected.
“What plainly evinces how desperate former president Zuma was to get rid of Nxasana is that this was followed by a draft settlement in which the amount was left blank. Nxasana was being told to pick whatever figure,” Justice Madlanga said.
The Concourt has, however, ruled that it would not be just and equitable for either Nxasana or Abrahams to be retained at the helm of the NPA.
All eyes are now on President Cyril Ramaphosa after the court ordered him to appoint a new NDPP within three months.
Last year, a high court stripped Zuma of his powers to appoint an NDPP, saying he was too conflicted due to his implication in criminal allegations that were being handled by the NPA.
Ramaphosa was at the time ordered to appoint Abrahams’s replacement.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said he was disappointed that Nxasana was not returned to his post.
“I am disappointed that Nxasana was not reinstated into office. But I am sure he has a stellar career ahead of him. I think Nxasana was placed under the most acute pressure.
“It was acknowledged by Zuma that he was fit and proper for office and I think it would have been just and equitable to reinstate him in his position,” Lewis said.
Justice Madlanga said that while he had sympathy for Nxasana, he was not free of blame as he was prepared to leave office if Zuma paid him for the remainder of his contract period.
“He made this demand when he had been in office for just over a year. Yet he wanted a payout for close to nine years, the unexpired term of office Effectively, although Nxasana strongly protested his fitness for office, he was saying he was willing to be bought out of office if the price was right,” Justice Madlanga said.
Nxasana said that while he was disappointed he could not retain his job, he felt vindicated as the court acknowledged the pressure he had endured under Zuma.
“I am disappointed but at the same time I respect the court judgment and I am willing to pay back the money as directed by the court. Today I am vindicated.
“The court has heard my version and they accept the treatment that I received. I was subjected to all this humiliation at the time,” Nxasana said.
The Presidency announced that Ramaphosa had noted the judgment including its directive that he appoint a new NPA head.
“President Ramaphosa also undertook that urgent attention would be given to leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered, the Presidency said.