LAWSON NAIDOO: This appointment is Ramaphosa's biggest challenge by far
'Cyril Ramaphosa inherited myriad challenges after he replaced Zuma as president in February, but perhaps none so daunting as who to appoint as the next head of the NPA'
Clearly not all legal practitioners would qualify; that is merely a minimum requirement. In addition to fierce independence and being beyond reproach, the NDPP must be politically astute, capable of navigating the turbulent streams of our political terrain. Why is this so important? The NDPP is entrusted not only with prosecuting cases on behalf of the state and reviewing decisions to prosecute, but also formulating prosecutorial policy with the minister of justice.
Recent history tells us that the NDPP is required to take key decisions on the prosecution of high-profile politicians and their cronies; this is only going to escalate as evidence of state capture mounts. There will inevitably be pressure from within the governing party to tread softly in some cases - the new NDPP will need to be made of tungsten, and focus on the NPA's constitutional mandate to exercise its functions without fear, favour or prejudice.
In seeking to secure the independence of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act provides for a nonrenewable 10-year term of office. Our experience suggests the act may have been rather ambitious in setting this goal. In the 20 years of its existence the NPA has gone through five NDPPs: Bulelani Ngcuka, Vusi Pikoli, Menzi Simelane, Mxolisi Nxasana and Shaun Abrahams. There have also been four acting NDPPs (incumbent Silas Ramaite, Mokotedi Mpshe, Nomgcobo Jiba and Willie Hofmeyr). Ngcuka, the longest-serving NDPP at six years, resigned in 2004 amid controversy for failing to prosecute Jacob Zuma alongside Schabir Shaik; Pikoli was fired in 2009 (though the Ginwala inquiry found him fit to hold office) in part because of the way the Scorpions investigated Zuma; Simelane's appointment by Zuma was found to be irrational by the courts and set aside in 2011; Nxasana was enticed by Zuma to resign in 2015 (in return for R17.3m), and...