An­other blun­der?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

JA­COB Zuma loy­al­ist Willem Heath, an erst­while con­fi­dant of slain min­ing mag­nate Brett Keb­ble, was no sooner ap­pointed – con­tro­ver­sially – to head the Spe­cial Inves- tigat­ing Unit (SIU) than he was the cen­tre of more con­tro­versy. This was oc­ca­sioned by com­ments Heath re­port­edly made to a Sun­day news­pa­per about the role he al­leged was played by former Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki in get­ting the then-pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute Zuma.

Now Zuma is said to be seek­ing the ad­vice of his jus­tice min­is­ter, Jeff Radebe, over the suit­abil­ity of Ad­vo­cate Heath to fill the po­si­tion of SIU head.

The coun­try has the right to ask what on earth the pres­i­dent – and for that mat­ter Radebe – thinks he is do­ing and why it is that he makes so many se­ri­ous blun­ders in the sen­si­tive arena of le­gal af­fairs.

Zuma and his ad­vis­ers ap­pear to have not re- alised that in terms of our laws the pres­i­dent has to be able to pro­vide sound rea­sons for re­plac­ing the head of the SIU. The pub­lic has no clue as to what led Zuma to re­move Wil­lie Hofmeyr, who on the face of it seemed to be do­ing a fine job of tack­ling cor­rup­tion in govern­ment de­part­ments and agen­cies.

DA leader He­len Zille is quite right to have asked Zuma to pro­vide his rea­sons.

Now views have been ex­pressed that Heath is in fact too old to take this job since the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act sets the age of re­tire­ment at 65. There are also con­cerns that he will be al­lowed to re­tain di­rec­tor­ship of his pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­sul­tancy with the po­ten­tial for con­flicts of in­ter­est.

This is not the first time Zuma has made such a blun­der. There was the de­ba­cle of try­ing to ex­tend the term of of­fice of the Chief Jus­tice, fol­lowed by a row over the suit­abil­ity of his new can­di­date for Chief Jus­tice. More re­cently Zuma and Radebe were slapped down by the Supreme Court of Ap­peal over the ap­point­ment of Menzi Simelane as Na­tion- al Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.

We fear that the ap­point­ment of Heath might well be an­other case where the pres­i­dent ends up

with egg on his face.

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