President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his right to reverse his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s appointments of five of the most powerful officials in the state prosecution’s body, says a Business Day report.

It notes Ramaphosa is fighting multiple court challenges to his crusade to restructure the NPA, which has come under fire over its alleged ‘capture’ by pro-Zuma officials.

In the same week that Ramaphosa faced off in court with ousted deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba over what she says was his unlawful decision to fire her, the Presidency hit back at a court bid by Magistrate Ron Simphiwe Mncwabe to review the President’s decision to reverse his appointment as Northern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Mncwabe is one of three officials, including former acting head of the controversial Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, Torie Pretorius, who are suing Ramaphosa for reversing their appointments.

Zuma signed off on the postings just days before he was forced to step down.

These applications, as well as Jiba’s application to declare her dismissal unlawful, may prove challenging to Ramaphosa’s NPA crusade – a crusade that has resulted in senior NPA officials openly accusing him of making unlawful and unilateral decisions, notes the Business Day report.

Presidency DG Cassius Lubisi argues that while Zuma’s decision to appoint Mncwabe as Northern Cape DPP was recorded in an official presidential minute, this was ‘never formally communicated to the public’ and the President did not inform him privately that he had been appointed.

He has further stated that the presidential minute recording the appointment was ‘an internal formal record of the President’s decisions and is not ordinarily released into the public domain’, and was sent to Mncwabe via WhatsApp by former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams.

The appointment ‘was never finalised and thus he never assumed the role or acted in the position of DPP Northern Cape’, Lubisi states in court papers.

Lubisi also revealed that Ramaphosa had made his decision on Mncwabe, Pretorius and prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa after seeking legal advice from Advocate Wim Trengove.

Senior NPA advocates Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Malini Govender have also had their appointments to managerial positions by Zuma revoked by Ramaphosa, but neither is challenging it in court.

Pretorius, though, is adamant that Ramaphosa was not legally authorised ‘to revoke an appointment of a special director unilaterally in the manner which he has done’.

Pretorius wants the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to rule he was lawfully appointed by Zuma, and to set aside Ramaphosa’s revocation of his appointment.

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