Ngcuka : I'll be Gone by the End of the Month
Sheena Adams, Sapa
Despite earnest protestations from Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla, National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka hopes to leave office at the end of the month.
Sipho Ngwema, Ngcuka's spokesperson, said even though his resignation had not yet been accepted formally by President Thabo Mbeki, Ngcuka would "hopefully" leave before August.
"The minister tried to persuade Mr Ngcuka to stay - discussions had been going on for a long time. But in the end he persuaded the minister to accept his leaving," Ngwema said.
A number of factors had led Ngcuka to decide to leave office, Ngwema said, including the fact that Ngcuka had turned the National Prosecuting Authority into a "big and healthy organisation".
"He had implemented what he wanted to do and he thought it was time for someone else to consolidate and evaluate what he had done. His task was to set up the unit and come up with innovative ways to prosecute (crimes). He also raised the morale of prosecutors."
According to some NPA sources, Ngcuka had made up his mind to resign at last year's five-year anniversary of the unit. "To tell you the truth, the Zuma case actually delayed his decision (to resign)," one said.
Ngcuka had been forced to fend off allegations and complaints since his public announcement that there was prima facie evidence of corruption against Deputy President Jacob Zuma, but not enough to convict him.
The New National Party has called on the government to appoint a new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) following Ngcuka's resignation.
On Sunday NNP spokesperson Carol Johnson said: "We urge the government fill the vacancy in a speedy fashion as the office of the NDPP is crucial in the fight against crime."
Joel Netshitenzhe, the government's chief spokesperson, has confirmed that Ngcuka had submitted his resignation. "Once the president has formally considered the matter and formally responded to the minister (Mabandla), a formal announcement will be made," he said.
Ngcuka is the latest victim of the political fallout from the Scorpions' investigations of alleged corruption by Zuma.
Johnson said Ngcuka had done an excellent job as the chief prosecutor and his decision to step down should be respected.
The Democratic Alliance said Ngcuka's departure was a great pity.
Its spokesperson Sheila Camerer said it was clear that Ngcuka has finally succumbed to the "huge" political pressure put on him by the ANC majority in parliament.
With acknowledgements to Sheena Adams and the Cape Argus.