NDPP debacle: Is the problem with Zuma or the system?

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

When the Pretoria High Court on Friday set aside President Jacob Zuma's appointment of NDPP head Shaun Abrahams it was a repetition of the Supreme Court of Appeal's move to set aside his appointment of Menzi Simelane from the same position back in 2011.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said this re-occurrence should raise serious questions.

"The question is whether these challenges can be attributed to Zuma the person and his leadership style or do they go beyond him?" said Mathekga‚ adding that the issue could be the powers given to the president and the involvement of Parliament in the making of key appointments.

Abrahams was controversially appointed by Zuma after the departure of former National Director of Public Prosecutions head Mxolisi Nxasana‚ but the court found that Nxasana's departure was unlawful.

Abrahams has been accused of shielding Zuma‚ who has fought off 783 counts related to corruption and fraud for several years.

He was also at the centre of a storm after he pursued criminal charges against former finance minister Pravin Gordhan‚ who was later axed by Zuma.

Nxasana reached a settlement agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2015 but the court ruled that was irregular.

It found that Zuma‚ who is himself facing possible charges‚ was not entitled to remove or suspend the national director of public prosecutions given that he is conflicted.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo‚ who read out the judgment‚ ordered that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must appoint the NDPP while Zuma is president.

"So the court is acknowledging that the president may be compromised….‚" said Mathekga.

A full bench of the court ruled that Nxasana must pay back the R17-million golden handshake he received when he left office.

The court found that both Zuma and Nxasana had acted “recklessly” with regards to the settlement agreement.

Mathekga believed Zuma would fight this ruling and it would most probably end up in the Constitutional Court.

The ANC said it was considering its options before deciding on whether or not to appeal the ruling.

"The ANC will allow the parties involved to reflect on the judgment and its implications as well as decide whether to appeal or not. As the ANC‚ we trust that whatever decision taken will be in the interest of the administration of justice‚ the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the country as whole‚" said spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

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