Public prosecutions overhaul

The National Prosecuting Authority, recently mired in controversy, is set for a massive revamp.

Jacob Zuma and his supporters have accused former president Thabo Mbeki and successive national directors of public prosecutions of abusing the institution to wage a political vendetta against him.

Although acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe has recently been lauded by the Zuma camp for dropping criminal charges against the ANC leader, it is widely believed that someone closer to Zuma will be appointed to head the beleaguered institution.

The man frequently tipped to replace Mpshe is former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who has supported Zuma in his legal travails since he was first charged in 2005.

Ramatlhodi has, himself, been the subject of a Scorpions investigation, but the probe was dropped in November last year after he made representations to the NPA. Ramatlhodi was admitted as an advocate to the Pretoria Bar earlier this month.

Zuma’s advisers are on record saying that he will not continue the ANC practice of cadre deployment in appointing the heads of key state institutions. If Ramatlhodi is seen as being too close to Zuma and the president wants to be seen to be supporting continuity, the permanent appointment of Mpshe as NDPP would not come as a surprise.

Mpshe’s deputy, Willie Hofmeyr, has an outside chance of filling Vusi Pikoli’s shoes, left vacant after Mbeki suspended Pikoli in September 2007.

The key priorities of the NPA are:

  • To polish its tarnished image after dropping the charges against Zuma;

  • To rebuild the morale of demoralised staff after years of political battering;

  • To restore public trust that it will prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice; and

  • To negotiate an effective working relationship with the department of justice.

Beat the baddies

Crime fighting has been identified by the ANC as one of the incoming regime’s top priorities.
South Africans of all races and classes are affected by the scourge of crime in a land where about 50 people are killed daily.

Numerous surveys have shown the public’s trust in the South African Police Service (SAPS) to be extremely low and the ANC has admitted that not enough has been done to counter the spread of violent crimes through the country.

Zuma’s choices for minister of safety and security and police chief are crucial. The SAPS has been caught up in political infighting and turf battles with other law enforcement agencies to the detriment of crime fighting at all levels of society.

The prolonged corruption trial of police chief Jackie Selebi has not done the SAPS any favours and the institution is perceived as rudderless and demoralised.

Selebi’s contract expires in mid-2009 and it would be a huge surprise if Zuma retains him—despite Selebi’s best attempts to ingratiate himself with the Zuma camp.

People tipped to occupy the top office at Wachthuis include ANC NEC member and former Umkhonto weSizwe fighter Ayanda Dlodlo, SAPS head of detectives and former member of the ANC’s Operation Vula Rayman Lalla, the police’s head of training and former MK soldier Gary Kruser and Robert McBride, the former Ekurhuleni police chief and ex-ANC intelligence operative.

If Dlodlo gets the nod she will be the country’s first woman police chief. She has held a senior management position in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which widens her experience of the criminal justice system.

But Zuma might opt for the continuity choice of a current SAPS member if he feels that either Lalla or Kruser is fit to lead. Kruser is said to be a close ally of Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Five key priorities will be:

  • To restore morale under police officers with decisive and visionary leadership;

  • To integrate members of the Scorpions successfully with the newly established directorate of priority crime investigations;

  • To fix the relationship with the NPA;

  • To restore public faith in the SAPS with clean and focused leadership; and

  • To bring down the crime rate.

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