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Zuma defends NDPP appointment

The president denies claims he appointed Mxolisi Nxasana in a plot to avoid his own prosecution.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma addresses the Commonwealth and South African Open Chess Championship 2013 at Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. South Africa.14/07/2013. Picture:GCIS

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday dismissed speculation that he appointed Mxolisi Nxasana as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) in a plot to avoid his own prosecution on corruption charges.

He was speaking at a briefing in Pretoria ahead of his trip to the G20 summit in Russia this week.

The president appointed Nxasana on Friday afternoon.

The National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) has been without a permanent head since October 2012.

Zuma says he appointed Nxasana based only on his abilities.

"I've appointed a legal person that I think is competent, that I think will be able to do the job."

The president dismissed suggestions the appointment was made to protect himself by preventing his own prosecution in relation to the ongoing spy tapes saga.

"I can't appoint somebody on that basis, that's totally wrong speculation. How can I appoint somebody on a promise that they won't prosecute [me]?"

He says he can't know what the NPA will choose to do.

"Will I ever be prosecuted? Maybe somebody knows a secret I don't know."

The president says considerable thought went into appointing Nxasana, saying the decision is able to stand up to scrutiny.

Shortly after confirming the appointment on Friday, Zuma said he believed Nxasana would bring the right kind of leadership to the NPA because of his experience and qualifications.

The Presidency says Nxasana is a person who's come up through the ranks, is appropriately qualified and has the right experience for this post.

Zuma also appointed Advocate Vas Soni to head the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Meanwhile, prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach's lawyer says the appointment of a new NPA head won't affect her ongoing legal dispute.

The senior prosecutor was suspended in April 2012 for her handling of a mining rights case, but has since been acquitted of all charges.

She's since been reinstated, but has been moved to the Director of Public Prosecutions office in Pretoria.

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