The number of shortlisted candidates from which President Cyril Ramaphosa has to pick the right person to lead the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) makes the task challenging, with experts arguing that three candidates should have been shortlisted, instead of five.
The president’s office yesterday unveiled advocates Shamila Batohi, Siyabulela Mapoma, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, Rodney de Kock and Andrea Johnson as candidates shortlisted by the advisory panel as suitable for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).
But constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto said the list was too long and it would make choosing the suitable candidate more difficult for Ramaphosa than would the list have been kept at three.
“Five candidates is a lot. They [the panel] should have chosen three candidates, which is a minimum. This puts him [Ramaphosa] in a very difficult position and it is also difficult to see who the president is likely to choose,” he said.
Gutto, however, said those nominated went through a rigorous process of interviews and public scrutiny, saying the focus of Section 179 of the constitution was to ensure that whoever is selected was qualified and able to perform this function without fear or favour.
He said though Batohi, a senior legal adviser to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague since 2009, was tipped as the likely choice, Ramaphosa must exercise his mind and make a good decision.
“These are just views. The president has to account on why he made a particular choice,” Gutto added.
Phephelaphi Dube, constitutional law expert and director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said Batohi, Johnson and Mlotshwa were the strongest candidates and that Ramaphosa was most likely to choose from this trio.
“The three are the strongest candidates, looking at their managerial experience because it is not enough to be a good prosecutor. “They have experience within the NPA, rose through the ranks of NPA, occupied senior level posts in the NPA and they did not shy away from the credibility crisis that the NPA finds itself in,” she said.
The five nominees have been selected from 10 candidates who were interviewed publicly at the Union Buildings, Pretoria, over three days last week.
Ramaphosa has to meet the Constitutional Court’s deadline of making the appointment within 90 court days of the August 13 judgment, which ousted former NPA boss Shaun Abrahams.