Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2004-05-28 Reporter: Wisani wa ka Ngobeni

Protector's Report Could Hurt Ngcuka

 

Publication 

Mail & Guardian

Date 2004-05-28

Reporter

Wisani wa ka Ngobeni

Web Link

www.mg.co.za

 

Until November 2002 Bulelani Ngcuka enjoyed an enviable reputation. As head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) he is South Africa's top prosecutor, and by all accounts, Ngcuka, who is also in charge of the elite Scorpions, is a hard-working and dedicated prosecutor.

But recent developments are threatening to damage his reputation. Despite the favourable outcome of the Hefer commission, which quashed spy claims against him, Ngcuka is not completely off the hook. As reported by the Mail & Guardian last week, his standing may be questioned when Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana releases his long-awaited report on whether he abused his authority while investigating Deputy President Jacob Zuma. The report is due to be released on Friday.

Complicating the matter further may be other recent developments, including:

The M&G reported last week that Tshavhungwa, like Zuma, has now approached Mushwana to probe the Scorpions for abuse of power while probing him on bribery allegations.

If the complaints by Zuma and Tshavhungwa and the investigation by the SAPS hold up, Ngcuka may be in big trouble. He may well face a jail term if criminal case is proven in court. And if Mushwana's report finds against him, he may face political pressure, mainly from Zuma's supporters, to resign.

This may be the easy option, as Ngcuka is believed to have started negotiating an exit package that would allow him to leave before his contract expires in 2008. If this happens, the news will have a mixed reaction.

Ngucka has created many enemies in the past few years, particularly within the ANC, but is highly regarded by his supporters and opposition parties, despite the fact that they initially opposed his appointment on the grounds that he was perceived as an ANC apparatchik.

Ngcuka proved many of his critics wrong by creating a very efficient prosecuting authority, and pursuing highly placed ANC figures on corruption charges. He was responsible for the conviction of former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni on fraud charges. But his handling of the Zuma probe in which he stated that there was a prima facie case of corruption but insufficient evidence to win the case in court brought him in direct confrontation with leading ANC figures.

Ngcuka's probe of Zuma and the NPA's statement that the deputy president had a case to answer, tarnished Zuma's political career. Although he was reappointed to the powerful position of deputy president in the new Cabinet, his ambition to succeed President Thabo Mbeki has been damaged by the probe.

With acknowledgements to Wisani wa ka Ngobeni and the Mail & Guardian.