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NPA boss Nxasana wins battle against suspension - for now

Glynnis Underhill

The National Prosecuting Authority boss Mxolisi Nxasana appears to have won round one in his battle against President Jacob Zuma to keep his job.

The National Prosecuting Authority boss Mxolisi Nxasana appears to have won round one in his battle against President Jacob Zuma to keep his job. (Paul Botes, M&G)

The National Prosecuting Authority boss Mxolisi Nxasana appears to have won round one in his battle against President Jacob Zuma to keep his job.

Following a meeting between the parties today, Nxasana has not been suspended by Zuma, as had been widely expected this week, the Mail & Guardian has established.

Talks were held this morning after Nxasana filed an urgent court interdict on Tuesday to try to compel Zuma to provide him with further clarity on why he wants to suspend him. 

The matter was postponed indefinitely but kept on the court roll, and efforts are being made to try to settle the dispute out of court. 

Anticipating Nxasana’s suspension
The court action was seen by Zuma’s supporters as a pre-emptive strike, as they were anticipating Nxasana’s suspension by the President on Tuesday, said an NPA source.

Nxasana’s supporters believe attempts were made to get him to resign after the prosecuting authority moved to recharge suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli with fraud and corruption.

Trouble erupted seven months after he took up his post when Nxasana was asked in May by former justice minister Jeff Radebe to step down, as he had apparently failed his security clearance.

Nxasana pointed out in his court papers this week that Radebe had brought up cases from 30 years ago, and he had declared most of them. 

One of these cases involved a murder charge he faced in court when he was 18, which he said he had not declared because he was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence. 

While some NPA legal figures have clashed with Nxasana, a number of NPA prosecutors have told the M&G they will not stand by and allow Nxasana to be removed from office, without good reason.

“We believe in his integrity and independence,” said a senior NPA prosecutor this week. “He is the only one who can restore our dignity and pride and bury the rot.”

Nxasana had a deadline for Tuesday to provide reasons why he should not be suspended.

Zuma wrote him a letter and made it clear that he intends to suspend Nxasana while he waits for a commission of inquiry into his fitness to hold office to be convened. However, Nxasana said he would not provide the President with reasons why he should not be suspended unless he has further details about why he wants to suspend him.

Nxasana and Zuma are expected to meet again next week, but the presidency is keeping mum on details. 

Further court action could take place if Nxasana is not happy with the outcome, said NPA sources, if Nxasana is still not provided with further details on why Zuma wants to suspend him. 

Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj confirmed in a press statement the President had met with the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) this morning and said they had discussed various matters around the President’s intention to hold an inquiry into the NDPP’s fitness to hold office.

“The President has taken note of the issues raised by the NDPP,” said Maharaj. “An announcement will be made when all the processes have been completed.”

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