Zuma to appeal Nxasana judgment

08 December 2017 - 15:17
By Naledi Shange
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward Jacob Zuma South Africa's President Jacob Zuma reacts during the launch of a social housing project in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma is set to appeal the High Court's decision to reverse his appointment of Shaun Abrahams as National Director of Public Prosecutions.

In a statement released just hours after the ruling‚ Zuma's office said: "Whilst the President awaits a full briefing on the judgment‚ he has been advised that an early assessment displays‚ with respect‚ various grounds upon which a successful appeal may be prosecuted.

"The National Prosecuting Authority is an important institution in our constitutional democracy‚ appointments in respect of which are not made lightly‚" the statement read‚ adding that the NDPP played a pivotal role in the criminal justice system.

"Minded by the principle of the separation of powers‚ constitutional legality and the rule of law‚ the judgment will be appealed. Out of deference to the court and the judicial system‚ these grounds will be properly ventilated in the normal course in court proceedings."

The Pretoria High Court had ordered that a new national director of public prosecutions be appointed‚ saying that Abrahams' appointment was invalid.

Abrahams was controversially appointed by Zuma after the departure of former NDPP 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 the deputy president must appoint the NDPP while Zuma is president.

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.

The new NDPP must be appointed in 60 days.

The court application was brought by Corruption Watch‚ Freedom Under Law and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution. The organisations asked the court to review the financial settlement paid to Nxasana.

The president‚ the minister of justice‚ the national prosecuting authority and Abrahams were ordered to pay costs.