President Jacob Zuma has finally committed himself to appointing a national director of public prosecutions by the end of August.
In an ideal world, it would not have been necessary for the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) to go to court first to get the president to make a pronouncement on such an important decision. Casac should be applauded.
But Zuma has been dragging his feet since December 2011, when the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Menzi Simelane’s appointment was irregular.
As with the appointment of an arms deal commission, it was only the threat of a damaging court challenge that moved the reluctant president to make an important decision.
Zuma denies that he’s been dragging his feet. He has been considering a number of candidates over the past few months, he told the court. Better late than never.
In his affidavit before the Constitutional Court, Zuma makes a number of important concessions.
The president acknowledges that a permanent appointment carries with it a greater degree of independence than an acting appointment.
This is a crucial admission in light of Zuma’s links to Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, the current acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority.
Zuma further acknowledges that he is under a constitutional obligation to make an appointment that is rational – a hard lesson learnt from the Simelane case.
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