Masutha tells NPA to improve its image
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has called on senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) managers to stop public bickering and focus on improving the agency’s image.
Masutha also revealed that no decision has been taken as yet regarding the future of embattled national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), Mxolisi Nxasana.
Masutha told journalists on Monday that he had been in liaison with President Jacob Zuma’s office about Nxasana, but a decision had not yet been taken by the president on what is the appropriate course of action.
Former justice minister Jeff Radebe reportedly instructed Nxasana to resign a few days before Zuma’s new Cabinet was announced. Nxasana had apparently not been given a security clearance because of past brushes with the law. He has refused to resign. In terms of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, the president has powers to initiate an inquiry and if needs be to instruct the suspension of the NDPP.
Masutha said Zuma’s ill health was not helping in expediting the Nxasana matter. “No action has been taken or decided on so far … that matter is still very much at hand. You will be aware that the president has not been well which has also not been very helpful in expediting the matter.”
Masutha, who has been in office for just two weeks, said he brought forward his “meet and greet” session with the NPA management to Monday because of “the widely publicised challenges at management level at the NPA that have been reported upon over the past week or two”.
“In the light of that, we have implored colleagues at the NPA [especially] at senior management level to desist on indulging in any activity that pre-empts, interferes or in any way disrupts the processes that I’ve just outlined in processing this matter.” Masutha said those officials who have authority to take disciplinary steps against others have also been warned.
He added that if the “media reports of the past weekend were anything to go by, they pointed to a situation at the NPA which characterises witch-hunts, plots and so on”.
“We are not necessarily restricting or restraining the people’s right to a freedom of expression nor are we seeking to limit the media’s right to media freedom. We really are saying, all of us should focus more on assisting the institution to achieve and maintain a level of tranquility especially at management level,” he said.
He described the meeting with the NPA senior managers as “a very amicable, frank and honest engagement”.
“I met first with the NDPP to accord him and to emphasise the point that Mr Nxasana is still very much the NDPP and head of the institution and still holds the whole authority relating to the running of the institution.
“My reading [of the NPA environment] is that everyone was comfortable and we emphasised that it was not an intervention but an interaction,” he said.
Masutha said no time frames had been set to deal with the Nxasana matter, especially due to Zuma’s ill health. He added that there were legal issues being examined to decide on a fair course of action.