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Breytenbach withdraws as Maimane calls for NPA head who is ‘above party politics’

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) who is “above party politics”.

Maimane was speaking outside Parliament on Wednesday morning where he explained why DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach had withdrawn from the running for the position of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).

The interviews for the head of the NPA began on Wednesday at the Union Buildings, following an urgent Right2Know court application on Tuesday to have the interviews open to the media in the interest of transparency.

READ MORE: High court orders NDPP interviews open to media

Breytenbach initially made her intention to withdraw public on Radio 702, saying she wanted to remove politics from the NPA. During her interview on the talk show, Breytenbach said her party held the view that the NDPP should be “apolitical”.

The politicisation of the NDPP is not new, Maimane reiterated on Wednesday saying, “The politicisation of the NDPP and the NPA is not just an aberration of the Zuma presidency either. It started under the Mbeki Presidency, and is simply the natural consequence of the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment, which has as its explicit goal the capture of the state’s levers of power in order to concentrate power in the party.

“This policy of cadre deployment has demoralised professional civil servants who are judged not on the quality of their work, but on their connections and loyalty to the party.”

Maimane has urged the president to appoint an individual who is “above party politics”.

“If public faith in the NPA it is to be rebuilt at all, the President must appoint someone who is seen to be totally above party politics. It is not enough to know that the person will act independently. They must also be seen to be independent. And it is this factor which has led to the decision that Adv. Breytenbach has made,” Maimane added.

Similarly, Breytenbach said on CapeTalk that it was a difficult decision to give up her “dream job” but she made the decision because “a political appointment of any nature would not be in the best interest of the NPA.”

Breytenbach’s legal career spanned 26 years. She was suspended from the NPA in 2012 over allegations she had shown bias during her fraud prosecution of mining company Imperial Crown Trading. Breytenbach was serving as a member of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit. The charges of fraud against Breytenbach and her co-accused Gerhard Wagenaar were later dropped.

In 2012, Breytenbach said then NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her over Breytenbach’s push to prosecute former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

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