Masutha distances himself from Nxasana golden handshake

Former NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg yesterday.
Former NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg yesterday.
Image: Alaister Russell

Justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha has denied any involvement in negotiations for the R17.3-million golden handshake that saw former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana prematurely vacate office.

Masutha told journalists in Pretoria on Tuesday that his role in the saga, slammed by the Constitutional Court as an abuse of power by former president Jacob Zuma, was to provide administrative support to see the process through. On Monday, the court ruled that Shaun Abraham’s appointment as the NPA boss was invalid as he benefited from Zuma’s abuse of power.

The court, which found the former president had used the R17.3-million golden handshake to get rid of Nxasana, ordered Nxasana to repay R10.2-million.

Nxasana, speaking to Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa on Tuesday morning, questioned why Masutha’s involvement was not challenged when he was the signatory in the setttlement agreement. But the minister said he could not refuse to provide administrative support as this would impede the former president's ability to perform his executive duties.

Masutha added that he was not privy to the settlement negotiations, saying the agreement was between Zuma and Nxasana. “If a minister of justice refuses to provide administrative support in the discharge of the executive responsibilities in relation to administration of justice then you will effectively be impeding the head of state’s ability to perform their duties," said Masutha.

"It is a decision or agreement entered [into] between [Zuma and Nxasana] and whoever was involved in negotiating that agreement. I was not party to those negotiations at all [and] I was not privy to those negotiations… mine was to provide the administrative support.”

Asked about the process of appointing the acting NPA boss, the minister said they would be privy to certain developments regarding this process, but said it would be inappropriate for him to pre-empt an official statement from the presidency. President Cyril Ramaphosa has less than 90 days to appoint a replacement for Abrahams.

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