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Zuma can only pray for an easy way out of the NPA debacle

Glynnis Underhill

NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana is proving to be more than Zuma bargained for in his refusal to be suspended as national director of public prosecutions.

Mxolisi Nxasana has fought Zuma's attempts to have him suspended, in the courts when necessary. (Paul Botes, M&G)

First prize for President Jacob Zuma would be for the man he appointed as the national director of public prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, to accept a settlement offer to avoid a commission of inquiry into his fitness to hold office, the Mail & Guardian was reliably informed.

This option would have been on the table when the two powerful figures and their legal teams met last Friday, after Nxasana had turned to the courts to stop his imminent suspension by Zuma.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, would not say whether Nxasana would consider a settlement offer, or defend his reputation. “No developments,” Mncube said.

In July, Zuma announced that he intended to appoint a commission, which is the only way he can fire Nxasana because his post is a presidential appointment. 

The NPA has been thrown into turmoil, as many of its senior prosecutors believe the attempts to get rid of Nxasana followed the moves to recharge the suspended crime intelligence boss, Richard Mdluli, with fraud and corruption.

Fightback
The fightback by Nxasana to clear his name began in May, when former justice minister Jeff Radebe asked him to step down, claiming he had failed his security clearance. Among other issues, Radebe said Nxasana had not declared that, at the age of 18, he had faced a murder charge, although he was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence. 

On Tuesday last week, Nxasana filed an urgent court interdict in the high court in Pretoria to prevent his suspension.

“I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds to suspend me,” Nxasana wrote in his court papers. “I want to supplement my representations to show there are none.

“But I am unable to do so until I receive the particularity sought and time to respond.”

The high-profile case was postponed indefinitely the same day, and remains on the court roll, which is seen as leverage for Nxasana’s negotiating team.

Although he has shown his determined to fight moves to suspend him, the situation might become untenable as the rifts in the NPA are running deep. As a top NPA prosecutor told the M&G, there is high hope Nxasana will continue to “clean up” the prosecuting authority as long as he remains in office.

“JZ [Jacob Zuma] is in a corner,” the prosecutor said. “Nxasana is more than he bargained for.”


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