In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he will soon establish an investigating directorate in the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv. Shamila Batohi, to deal with serious corruption and associated offences.
Although this move in the direction of investigating and prosecuting state capture cases as a matter of urgency is a very welcome one, it does not go far enough in restoring the kind of permanent independent investigative capacity that existed previously. It does not go far enough. It only creates the impression that the failing ANC government is serious about combatting corruption.
The investigating directorate is being established in terms of section 7 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, Act 32 of 1998 (the Act). This section allows the President to, from time to time, establish investigating directorates within the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), with a specific mandate set out in the terms of the presidential proclamation. Section 7(2) of the Act however allows for the President to amend or rescind the founding proclamation upon the recommendation of the NDPP and the Ministers of Justice and Police.
In essence, this means that the President can disband the investigating unit if their investigations start to hit too close to home, for example if they start investigating the R 500 000 donation made to the President’s campaign fund by Bosassa CEO, Gavin Watson. This means that the envisioned investigating directorate can never operate as freely and fearlessly as demanded by the Constitutional Court in the Glenister judgements.
This body is further clearly not meant to be a permanent specialised priority crimes investigation and prosecutions unit, but is created specifically for the purpose of the Zondo Commission and other state capture commissions and disciplinary enquiries (such as for eg the Nugent Enquiry). The exact terms of its mandate will be published in the Presidential Proclamation, but from the text of the President’s SONA speech a limited mandate seems to be envisioned, restricting the workings of the Directorate to state capture cases.
The DA sees through the President’s smoke and mirrors. We have a plan to fight corruption to ensure that all public money is spent on the people. Our plan includes establishing a permanent and independent unit that is dedicated to fighting and prosecuting corruption. We are dedicated to building One South Africa for All who live in it, and this means that nobody should be free from prosecution, no matter how politically connected they may be.