There are more questions than answers regarding the curious case of the resignation of the national director of public prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, on Monday.
Nxasana’s lawyer, Busani Mabunda, addressed journalists on Tuesday but failed to answer the simplest yet most important question: Why did Nxasana resign?
When the presidency issued a statement on Sunday, it gave a timeline of what led to his resignation but no reasons.
“President Jacob Zuma has reached a settlement with the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mr Mxolisi Nxasana, in terms of which Mr Nxasana will vacate his position as [the] national director of public prosecutions from June 1 2015.”
The details of why the settlement was reached and what it contains are not known.
Journalists pushed Mabunda for a reason; his response was merely: “He has resigned because he has done so.”
“No matter how good you are, no matter how you guys seem to like him, no matter how many South Africans may like him, it has culminated in him ultimately resigning,” he said.
Cleared of any wrongdoing
While there remains no tangible reason for Nxasana’s resignation, the reasons and factors that did not play a part in his exit were readily provided by both the presidency and Nxasana’s lawyer.
In the press release issued by the presidency, Nxasana was distinctly cleared of any wrongdoing: “The government recognises that Mr Nxasana is professionally competent and possesses the requisite experience and integrity required to hold a senior position.”
And on Tuesday, Mabunda made the same assertion.
This answers the question as to why a commission of inquiry set up by Zuma to investigate Nxasana’s fitness to hold office was abandoned at the eleventh hour.
On the surface it seemed that Nxasana’s troubles began when it emerged that he did not have the security clearance necessary for the position of NDPP as a result of his nondisclosure of his past brushes with the law.
Security clearance certificate
That is why he was seemingly asked to step down by former justice minister Jeff Radebe, why Zuma wrote to him last year asking why he should not suspend him and that resulted in the commission of inquiry that was later abandoned.
Nxasana’s lawyer revealed on Tuesday that his client’s troubles had nothing to do with him not having a security clearance certificate.
Mabunda read out a letter that the minister of intelligence, David Mahlobo, wrote to Nxasana on September 8 last year, confirming that his appeal against the denial of a top-security clearance certificate by the State Security Agency (SSA) was upheld.
Then Mabunda read out a letter dated March 30 this year from Mahlobo to his director general, Sonto Kudjoe, instructing her to issue Nxasana with a top-security clearance certificate.
“The director general is therefore directed to issue a security clearance accordingly,” the letter said.
Mabunda noted that Nxasana never got the certificate, meaning he was unable to handle sensitive cases.
“I can say with confidence that [my] client is supposed to be in possession of the security clearance certificate,” he said.
Deputies not asked to step down
Again, there was no explanation from Mabunda as to what he believed the reasons were for Nxasana not being given his security clearance.
Why would the director general of the SSA defy the minister? Again, there were no answers.
Further, while details of the agreement between Zuma and Nxasana are not known, Mabunda said it did not involve the stepping down of his two deputies, Nomcgobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi.
“At no stage during [my client’s] engagement [with Zuma] did [he] demand as a condition that Ms Jiba and Mr Mrwebi vacate their respective offices,” Mabunda said.
He added that Nxasana had previously asked the president “in the execution of his duties as NDPP” to have them suspended and that a commission of inquiry into their fitness to hold office be instituted.
That never happened.
The exact value of the golden handshake that was supposedly offered to Nxasana remains unclear, although Mabunda said it was “no less than what he would have got had he remained in his position for the full term”. A figure of R6-million has been bandied about by sources, but has not been confirmed.
The normal term of an NDPP is 10 years – Nxasana served a mere one year and eight months of it.