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'Conflicted' Zuma not allowed to appoint new NPA head, says court

A full bench in Pretoria has set aside the termination of former prosecutions boss Mxolisi Nxasana's contract, as well as the appointment of current head Shaun Abrahams.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

PRETORIA - The High Court has ordered that President Jacob Zuma may have no say in the appointment of a new National Director of Public Prosecutions because he faces the prospect of criminal prosecution himself, and is conflicted.

A full bench in Pretoria has set aside the termination of former prosecutions boss Mxolisi Nxasana's contract, as well as the appointment of current head Shaun Abrahams.

Freedom Under Law and Corruption Watch had brought an application to challenge Nxasana's R17 million golden handshake, which he has now been ordered to pay back.

The court referred to the long-standing spy tapes matter and the prospect of President Zuma being charged with fraud and corruption.

That matter was recently referred to advocate Abrahams for a fresh decision on whether to proceed with the case.

“It seems incongruous that under those circumstances President Zuma should then be seen to be appointing the NDPP since his conflict both actually and perceived is self-evident. Judges decline routinely to sit in matters in which they are conflicted.”

The court has ordered that the deputy president should make decisions related to the appointment of the national director and has set a grace period.

“The orders of invalidity of paragraph two and four above are suspended for a period of 60 days or until such a time as the deputy president has appointed a national director of public prosecutions in term of paragraph eight above. Whichever is the shorter period.”