President Jacob Zuma has applied for leave to appeal against a ruling by a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must appoint the National Director of Public Prosecutions for as long as Zuma remained in office.
The court last week set aside the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as NDPP as unlawful and ruled that the president was conflicted because of the criminal charges he faced and that the deputy president must therefore appoint a new NDPP within the next 30 days.
The court also set aside the president’s decision to get rid of Mxolisi Nxasana as NDPP and ordered Nxasana to pay back his R17.3-million golden handshake, but said it would not be just and equitable to reinstate Nxasana or to retain Abrahams in the position.
The judges said it would be naive to ignore President Zuma’s pattern of conduct in litigation, defending the indefensible and banking on any advantage that the passage of time could bring.
The president’s appeal against the order taking away his powers to appoint an NDPP resulted in the suspension of the court order.
In his notice of appeal against the ruling granted in favour of Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the president maintained the decision resulted in the country having “two presidents at the same time”.
His grounds of appeal included that the court had erred in holding that he was conflicted and was “unable” to perform his powers as president in relation to the appointment of the NDPP, but yet able to perform his other functions as president.
He maintained this position was not authorised by the constitution.
He also submitted that the court had erred in law in holding that it was constitutionally permissible to have two presidents in he country at the same time and both exercising presidential powers.
In addition, he alleged the court had interpreted the law incorrectly and that the order was not just and equitable within the meaning of the constitution.
The ruling formed part of a series of devastating legal blows to the president, who was on Wednesday ordered to personally pay the wasted costs of his abortive attempts to stop former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report.
He was also ordered to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture, but with the presiding judge to be chosen by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because there was prima facie evidence that the president was involved in state capture.