‘Presidency must explain why Nxasana’s inquiry was terminated’

Advocate Nazeer Cassim says the NPA's Mxolisi Nxasana is likely to have struck a deal with the presidency.

FILE: National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Advocate Nazeer Cassim says the Presidency must explain to the country why the inquiry into National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Mxolisi Nxasana was called off at the last minute.

He says the inference is that it is likely a deal was struck between Nxasana and the Presidency at the 11th hour.

President Jacob Zuma commissioned the inquiry in February after it emerged last year that Nxasana had allegedly failed to disclose that he had previous brushes with the law.

Cassim announced this morning at the start of the public hearings that he received an early morning call telling him to cancel the probe.

He says he would have liked the presidency to be more responsive in explaining why the inquiry was cancelled.

"It's a public announcement to say I'm establishing a commission of inquiry. If that commission is for any reason terminated without the inquiry having taken place, then clearly there is an onus on the president to clarify the decision."

Cassim met with lawyers for both sides on Saturday to raise issues central to the inquiry.

He suspects they went back to their principles and found a way to strike an agreement to avoid that hearing the inquiry is going ahead.

Meanwhile, the presidency says they are still in talks.

The presidency's statement that Zuma and Nxasana are engaged in talks has provided no explanation as to the exact reason why the inquiry was called off at the last minute.

Constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto has warned against yet another golden-handshake for a top public official.

"They are going to pay and our taxes are going to rise because people do not meet proper divisions on who is proper and fit to hold such an important institution in society."

Opposition parties Congress of the People and the Democratic Alliance have asked for a clear explanation as to why the inquiry was stopped.

Gutto says Zuma is probably negotiating a deal to avoid an embarrassing public inquiry.

"The inquiry will do a lot of damage, damage in the sense that it will bring out the truth about the process of appointment of people in such provisions."