TWO CENTRES OF POWER
Zuma in fightback over power to appoint prosecutions head
The country cannot have two presidents at the same time, with both exercising presidential powers, according to President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma hit out at the high court in a notice to appeal against a December judgment that instructed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) because Zuma himself was conflicted.
The complaint about two presidents was contained in the notice of appeal filed in the Constitutional Court on Thursday.
Ironically, the appeal came as the ANC’s national executive committee was locked in a meeting likely to discuss Zuma’s future as state president after Ramaphosa won the party presidency in December.
Zuma is meant to submit fresh representations to the NPA by January 31 on why he should not face charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering linked to the arms deal after he conceded in the Supreme Court of Appeal that the 2009 decision to drop the charges against him was irrational.
The court erred in law in holding [it] to be constitutionally permissible to have two presidents in the country at the same time and both exercising constitutional powersJacob Zuma's notice
The High Court in Pretoria in December ruled that Zuma was too conflicted to appoint the NDPP and that it had to be done by Ramaphosa. The judgment also set aside Shaun Abrahams’ appointment as prosecutions chief by Zuma.
The NPA lodged its own appeal against the judgment. Abrahams was widely seen to be protecting Zuma and doing his bidding. The case was brought by Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, which moved to annul the golden handshake given to Mxolisi Nxasana by Zuma. Nxasana’s removal paved the way for Abrahams’ appointment.
The judgment held that as long as Zuma was in office, the deputy president would be responsible for decisions relating to the appointment, suspension or removal of the NDPP.
In his two-page notice of appeal to the Constitutional Court, Zuma argues that the high court erred in law by finding that he was unable to perform his powers as president to appoint the prosecutions chief but at the same time able to perform his other functions.
"The court erred in law in holding [it] to be constitutionally permissible to have two presidents in the country at the same time and both exercising constitutional powers," the state attorney representing Zuma said in the notice.
In an interview with eNCA at the weekend, Ramaphosa said the December court ruling had not yet been discussed with Zuma and the party and
that he believed it "requires a simple discussion".