Cyril's panel to identify NDPP welcomed

President Cyril Ramaphosa is adorned with traditional Zulu attire as a gift from Inkosi Mandla Mkwanazi in Empangeni, north of Durban yesterday during a ceremony to mark the successful transfer of land to the KwaMkwanazi community following a land claim. Meanwhile, civil society groups have welcomed his move to appoint a panel to help him select a new head of prosecutions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is adorned with traditional Zulu attire as a gift from Inkosi Mandla Mkwanazi in Empangeni, north of Durban yesterday during a ceremony to mark the successful transfer of land to the KwaMkwanazi community following a land claim. Meanwhile, civil society groups have welcomed his move to appoint a panel to help him select a new head of prosecutions.
Image: AFP/Rajesh JANTILAL

Civil society organisations have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's move to have a panel recommend to him who the head of prosecution in the country should be.

But they bemoaned the time given for this was too short.

Ramaphosa announced a new panel comprising legal and public bodies to help him choose the national director of public prosecution (NDPP). The move is a clear departure from the past when former presidents used their prerogative to appoint NDPPs.

The panel will recommend three people and Ramaphosa will then consult justice minister Michael Masutha before making his final decision.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko said the panel will be chaired by minister of energy Jeff Radebe and will be requested to identify potential candidates, establish that they meet the required criteria, conduct interviews and recommend at least three candidates to the president.

Executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Lawson Naidoo said it has always argued the appointment of the NDPP must be taken out of the hands of the president.

"It is a positive move but we are concerned that he has only made this announcement so late. He was given 90 days by the Constitutional Court to make the [NDPP] appointment. It has taken him more than 60 days to announce this panel. It is going to be a very rushed process for this panel to convene, decide how they are going to function, identify and interview candidates, all within a period of 30 days. It is going to be unreasonable [to expect the panel to achieve this]. It is going to result in a compromised process."

The Constitutional Court ruled on August 13 that the termination of former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana's appointment was unconstitutional, thus sealing the fate of his successor, Shaun Abrahams. In a majority judgment, the country's highest court confirmed the Pretoria high court's order that the terms on which Nxasana left office were constitutionally invalid and thus the appointment of Abrahams in Nxasana's stead was declared invalid. The court ordered the president to appoint a new NDPP within 90 days.

The General Council of the Bar of SA, Law Society of SA, Black Lawyers Association, National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Advocates for Transformation, Auditor-General of SA and SA Human Rights Commission will form part of the panel.

Constitutional law expert professor Koos Malan said the process was a step in the right direction in ensuring the independence of the NDPP.

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