Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2004-07-27 Reporter: The Editor

We Need a Ngcuka Clone



The Star

Date 2004-07-27


The Editor

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After a short but emotionally draining clash with some of the country's most influential men, Bulelani Ngcuka has finally caved in. He vehemently denies that he was pushed, but we must believe that the pressure was immense.

Failure by the ruling party to rally behind the National Director of Public Prosecutions during his brawl with Deputy President Jacob Zuma took a heavy toll. This was so especially because some old comrades, in hushed whispers, seemed to accept that he might have been an apartheid spy. And even being cleared by Judge Joos Hefer could not heal the sense of betrayal.

Luthuli House has let him down, not that he needed its backing. But even President Thabo Mbeki's tacit support would not have been sufficient to counter the perceived treachery.

Ngcuka confounded sceptics by taking no prisoners and going for the big guns. His arrogance and boldness cemented the rule of law and strengthened the concept of a separation of powers. His clash with the Public Protector, as unnecessary as it was, demonstrated sheer independence.

Ngcuka's departure triggers questions about the independence and boldness of his successor, whether he/she is from the ANC camp or not. The departure also calls for urgent scrutiny of the Schabir Shaik arms deal case and the "prima facie" cloud hovering over Zuma.

If new incriminating evidence emerges against Zuma in Shaik's trial, the National Prosecuting Authority has a duty to carry out. Also regarding other high-profile political and business cases, the intention to prosecute should not be derailed.

There is speculation about former Limpopo Premier Ngoako Ramathlodi being in the running for Ngcuka's job. If this is true, caution should be exercised. Ramathlodi, unlike Ngcuka, is deeply entrenched in ANC party politics.

The challenge is to ensure continued independence. It's probably near impossible to find anyone over 30 who is apolitical. But the yardstick should be independent-mindedness that will survive in the face of emotional and political intimidation.

A Ngcuka clone perhaps?

With acknowledgement to The Star.