South Africa’s first NDPP, Bulelani Thandabantu Ngcuka, was in trouble from August, 2003 when he said on national television that there was a prima facie case against Zuma but the deputy president at the time would not be charged because the case was unwinnable.
Officially Ngcuka stepped down after the Hefer Commission exonerated him of being an apartheid-era spy but, as his successor Vusi Pikoli said in his memoir, “Ngcuka had been forced to resign”.
In turn Pikoli, who had been suspended by Thabo Mbeki, lost his job after he declined to assure Zuma backers that on reinstatement he would not bring charges against “the man”.
The next incumbent, acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe, followed instructions and dropped the charges against Zuma – a decision which is still being challenged in court. The appointment of his successor, Zuma lackey Menzi Simelame, was found by our courts to be irrational and invalid.
Mpshe was followed by acting NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba, who was compromised for several reasons. For example, Zuma expunged the criminal record of her lawyer husband. That alone would have made her beholden to President Zuma.
Jiba expected a permanent appointment. Having been disappointed, she is now, according to the Sunday Independent, alleged to be behind a smear campaign against new incumbent Mxolisi Nxasana.
Interestingly, one of the issues on which she and Nxasana clashed was the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling against suspended police crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli, who boasts of his support for Zuma.
While Jiba wanted to take this matter to the Constitutional Court, Nxasana demurred, according to the Sunday Independent.
The implication then is that, despite being a Zuma appointment, recommended by Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley, Nxasana might not be playing the game exactly as the Zuma camp would like.
Clearly Nxasana’s record makes him vulnerable. It is unforgivable that after so many delays and so much turmoil around the appointment of a permanent NDPP, the chosen one was not subjected to a security background check.
Given the parlous state of national security, which was until recently in the hands of man who said he did not know his wife was a drug dealer, it is noteworthy that our spooks somehow managed to find some dirt on Nxasana.
The allegations against him are serious enough to warrant a reappraisal of his position. Without going into the details of assault convictions, a murder acquittal, resisting arrest, altercations with police, a”jobs for pals” claim and so on, the overall complaint must be one of material non-disclosure.
He did not tell his employers as much as he should have about his past.
This litany of trouble around the office of the NDPP since 2003, primarily to protect one man, would be a thundering disgrace in any country.
In South Africa, which desperately needs a strong criminal justice system to put a lid on crime, it is unspeakable.