FXI wants state submission to Ginwala inquiry made public

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) on Tuesday called for the release of the state’s submission to the Ginwala commission, which probed the fitness for office of former national prosecutions chief Vusi Pikoli.

FXI acting executive director Melissa Moore said the institute had applied for the information to be made public in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA).

“This request was made on the premise that in terms of section 16 and 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the public has a right to receive the information contained in the submission.

“Moreover, the values of openness and accountability provided for in our Constitution dictate that the submission be made available to the public.”

Moore said the state’s submission would include the arguments of the Presidency and the Justice Ministry, as well as the testimony of former justice director general Menzi Simelane.

He was severely criticised by the commission, but controversially appointed by President Jacob Zuma late last year to succeed Pikoli.

Former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala was appointed in September 2007 to probe Pikoli’s fitness for the post. She concluded a year later that he was fit and proper.
He was nonetheless fired by then-president Kgalema Motlanthe for being insensitive to national security.

Pikoli claimed he was sidelined for political reasons, notably his decision to prosecute former police national commissioner Jackie Selebi for corruption.

He challenged his dismissal, but accepted an out-of-court settlement late last year. Zuma then appointed Simelane to the post, prompting an outcry in legal and political circles.

Simelane was criticised by the Ginwala Commission for his testimony before it and his handling of the fallout between Pikoli and the Justice Ministry. The commission found he had most likely interfered with the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority.

Pikoli’s submission to the Ginwala Commission, as well as its findings, were made public, but those by the Presidency and the Justice Ministry remain secret.

It remained under wraps, even during the review of an ad hoc parliamentary committee of the Presidency’s decision to axe Pikoli

Said Moore: “The contents of the state’s submission, [are] of significant public interest ... [they] will enable the public to determine for themselves the reasoning behind the conclusions arrived at by the inquiry.

“It was our view that the public has an overriding right to know about matters of such fundamental significance.”—Sapa

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