Pikoli axing: Cope joins chorus of criticism
The Congress of the People on Tuesday joined in the chorus of opposition criticism of President Kgalema Motlanthe’s decision to dismiss prosecutions chief Vusi Pikoli.
“We can only say that the question of dismissal even after nothing was found against the director is something that could have been handled very differently,” Cope’s policy chief Smuts Ngonyama told reporters.
The Democratic Alliance also cried foul on Monday, in spite of the Ginwala commission’s finding that the government had failed to show that he was unfit for office.
The DA said Mothlanthe’s decision had all the “hallmarks of a cover-up”, and the president had used the commission’s findings “selectively in the pursuance of a narrow political agenda”.
The DA said that Pikoli was fired to replace him with one who would “do the ANC’s bidding in respect of the prosecution of Jacob Zuma”.
“As such, Motlanthe has failed the first real test of his presidency, which was to put South Africa’s interests before the narrow interests of the Zuma faction of the ANC.”
Mothlanthe said in Pretoria on Tuesday that the decision had been his own.
“I have taken this decision with a clear conscience. The inquiry was not an arbitration. The report is merely meant to help the president arrive at his decision.”
Motlanthe announced his decision at the same time that he released the Ginwala report, set up in September last year by former president Thabo Mbeki to look into Pikoli’s fitness to hold office.
Pikoli claimed he was suspended because his office planned to arrest police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi for corruption.
However Motlanthe told reporters on Monday that Ginwala had found “no basis ... whatsoever” for the claim.
He said it would be “illogical” to keep Pikoli on in the post, and that he had decided Pikoli “should be relieved of his responsibility as the country’s national director of public prosecutions”.
He said Pikoli’s professional competence was not in question.
“However it should be noted that the requisite skills would necessarily include professional competence as well as those outlined by the inquiry, in particular appreciation for, and sensitivity to, matters of national security.”