Sunday, November 06, 2016

SACP Calls on Parliament to Probe NPA Head Shaun Abrahams`s Fitness
27 OCTOBER 2016 - 13:50 PM

NPA head Shaun Abrahams. Picture: ALON SKUY/SUNDAY TIMES

The South African Communist Party on Thursday called on Parliament to institute an inquiry into National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abraham`s fitness to hold office.

The ANC ally also wants the NPA Act amended to ensure the responsibility for appointing the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) does not lie with the president alone, it said on Thursday.

Pressure continues to mount on Abrahams after he issued a summons to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan two weeks ago to appear in court on fraud charges linked to his authorising early retirement for former South African Revenue Service (SARS) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in 2010.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law have approached the court to halt the case against Gordhan, arguing that there were no merits to it and it could only have been brought for "ulterior purposes".

The organisations said the case was farcical and amounted to an abuse of power.

Following a meeting of its politburo last week, the SACP in the statement said Abrahams`s behaviour "left much to be desired".

"It was amateurish, to say the least. It also fed into the concerns that state institutions were being used to target leaders who were being isolated for standing in the way of certain private interests amidst the widespread problem of corporate-capture in the state and state-owned enterprises, corruption and rent-seeking," the party said.

It announced its hard-line stance after weekend reports indicated Abrahams had met President Jacob Zuma at the ANC headquarters the day before Gordhan was issued with the summons.

Both parties have confirmed the meeting but said it was held to discuss the situation around student protests.

The SACP said Abrahams spent time talking about the alleged rogue unit at SARS at the media briefing announcing the charges against Gordhan, yet he subsequently announced "a completely unrelated and highly defective charge".

"Abrahams later said he could consider changing his decision to charge Minister Gordhan if he was to make representations to him as the NDPP. There is no doubt that he took this new decision under duress, as a result of public pressure.

"He, however, never shed any shred of legally valid reason why, in the first place, he did not offer the minister an opportunity to make those representations before charging him and broadcasting the decision to the media in a highly problematic manner."

The SACP said Section 179 of the Constitution establishes the president as the appointing authority of the NDPP but it also does not prohibit a "democratic public participatory process in particular public nominations and a Parliamentary selection process for recommendation to the president".

The party said the NDPP should be appointed in a process similar to that of the appointment of the Public Protector.

"Its absence in the NPA Act easily opens up space for allegations of partisanship in certain cases and errors committed by the NDPP, with wider implications to the president who appoints the NDPP without that process."

The SACP further raised concern about the possible influence of foreign funding on the office of the public protector after her annual report revealed a donation from USAID.

© BDlive 2016

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