R2K takes Ramaphosa to court‚ wants open interviews for new NPA boss

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The Right2Know (R2K) Campaign will take on President Cyril Ramaphosa in court on Tuesday.

The organisation wants open media coverage on the upcoming interviews for the candidates for appointment as national director of public prosecutions (NDPP)‚ as the country finds a replacement for Shaun Abrahams.

On Thursday last week‚ R2K addressed a letter to the president in which it stated that holding the NDPP interviews in secret was unconstitutional.

Ramaphosa responded a day later‚ stating that the Constitution did not prescribe a specific manner for how he could assess the fitness of a candidate for the position of NDPP - and thus he had decided to have the interviews in secret.

This prompted R2K to file an urgent application to the High Court in Pretoria at the weekend. It wants the court to order the president to permit at least 20 members of the media to attend‚ record and report on the interviews.

The case will be heard just a day before the interviews are set to begin on Wednesday.

“The President has decreed that the interviews be completely closed to the public. He has given no justification for this position‚” R2K access to information organiser Mluleki Marongo said in the founding affidavit filed with the court.

Marongo said that R2K had learned from newspaper reports on November 2 that Ramaphosa had directed that the panel’s interviews of shortlisted candidates be closed to the public.

Marongo said the Constitution demanded that‚ in the exercise of public power‚ openness was the rule and secrecy the exception.

He said the public was entitled to see and hear‚ and discuss and debate among themselves‚ how the shortlisted candidates stack up to the standards expected of an NDPP.

“Judges are interviewed in public. So is the Public Protector. There is no evidence that this renders the interview process less effective.

“On the contrary‚ it serves as a vital check against dishonesty on the part of the candidates‚ as a well as arbitrary and abusive questioning by interviewers‚” Marongo said.

He said the process of selecting and appointing the NDPP was a matter of profound public interest and importance.

“In short‚ the public have a right to know how and why the President has selected a particular candidate (over others) to be entrusted with such enormous public power and responsibility‚” Marongo said.

Marongo said the presidency had indicated it would oppose the application.

Ramaphosa appointed an advisory panel to identify suitable candidates for the position of NDPP.

On Friday‚ Ramaphosa said the panel‚ chaired by energy minister Jeff Radebe‚ had received 22 applications and 24 nominations by November 2.

Ramaphosa said the panel had shortlisted 12 candidates from the nominations and applications it had received.

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