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LETTER: NPA move both encouraging and sinister

The NPA cannot be reformed quickly enough; a new institution with carefully vetted personnel and no ‘saboteurs’ is required

20 October 2020 – 13:29 https://spkt.io/a/1160507

Claudi Mailovich’s article on National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shamila Batohi’s desire to break the shackles of executive oversight and “final responsibility” of the justice minister is both encouraging and also possibly sinister (“NPA wants out from under justice department’s umbrella to ensure independence”, October 19).

Encouraging because it reveals Batohi’s fealty to independence — a characteristic the NPA lost during the height of state capture. Batohi wants the constitution amended to remove every last vestige of executive control, in accordance with international best practice and the rulings in the Glenister litigation.

Substituting parliament as the oversight body of the NPA is a healthy step, and a necessary one given the abuses experienced in the Jacob Zuma era, and before when then national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli found himself illegally suspended then fired.

The move is also sinister because it may be designed to keep the prosecution of grand corruption within the ambit of the NPA. Astute observers appreciate that the current capture of the NPA will take too long to reverse to save SA from the corrupt. The new standalone body the ANC national executive committee wants to “deal with” corruption independently and as a single entity is a better reform than that desired by Batohi.

The preferable solution is to relieve the NPA of corruption busting and of all vestiges of executive control. It is contra-indicated to keep the corruption-busting functions, currently so puny and compromised, within the NPA; this will delay the end of the culture of impunity for grand corruption, which is imperiling SA.

The NPA cannot be reformed quickly enough; a new institution with carefully vetted personnel and no “saboteurs” is required. It is best established via a new Chapter Nine integrity iommission (Ch9IC) to prevent, combat, investigate and prosecute grand corruption in all its manifestations.

Building the political will to do so involves making the establishment of the Ch9IC a major election issue.

Paul Hoffman, SC, Accountability Now

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