Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-07-27 Reporter: Hopewell Radebe

Resignation on Hold with Mbeki Away



Business Day

Date 2004-07-27


Hopewell Radebe

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National prosecutions director Bulelani Ngcuka wants to step down this week, but his departure may be delayed as President Thabo Mbeki, who has to consider his resignation, is on leave.

Mbeki is away for a week, and he is likely to consider Ngcuka's request only when he returns next month.

Ngcuka surprisingly opted to quit after repeatedly saying he was determined to work through his 10-year contract, which ends five years from now. His wish to leave office in a hurry has raised concerns that it gives Mbeki little time to find a replacement.

There is also concern that this will not lead to a proper handover to the successor leaving the new person without any orientation or proper briefing on the state of the office of national prosecution from the incumbent.

Ngcuka's spokesman, Sipho Ngwema, said yesterday there was no chance the office would be without a competent head, even if the president appointed a person on an acting basis.

He said there was nothing pushing Ngcuka to leave urgently, he had merely requested the resignation be accepted and he be allowed to depart before August. He also said Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla had tried to persuade Ngcuka to stay.

The prosecutions authority has also denied claims that Ngcuka was pushed out of office because of his handling of investigations of corruption against Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Zuma was accused of soliciting almost R1,5m from a French company involved in the multimillion arms deal.

Ngcuka had said there was a prima facie case of corruption against Zuma, but a conviction could not be guaranteed.

With acknowledgements to Hopewell Radebe and the Business Day.