Advocate Batohi has a mammoth set of tasks ahead of her, not least to effect the vision of the NPA to ensure “Justice in our society, so that people can live in freedom and security” and crucially, to effect its mission, which is simple yet profound: “Guided by the Constitution, we in the National Prosecuting Authority ensure justice for the victims of crime by prosecuting without fear, favour and prejudice and by working with our partners and the public to solve and prevent crime”. This vision and mission were violated when the institution was captured, not in defence of country but in defence of former President Jacob Zuma and the multiple charges he was facing.

In addition to re-engendering a premium on the vision and mission of the institution, Advocate Batohi must provide the requisite leadership to the core business units of the NPA, which including the following:

Each of these come with hefty responsibility – especially at a time when corruption, State capture, violence against women and criminality are so high on the national agenda. That these units be set on course, under divisional leadership that has the right skills and credentials for the job and are immune to effecting selective justice, will no doubt challenge Advocate Batohi’s management and leadership skills and style.  She does not have the luxury of a blank slate but has inherited one that is scribbled on and scarred. Her tasks will be of correction and rewriting that which will rejuvenate trust and faith in the NPA.

Much has been written about immediate tasks that the incumbent will have to brace for.  These include the repair and rebuilding of a broken institution – and Advocate Batohi was clear in her interview that this was a priority. Deft management, coupled with values-based leadership, will be a high priority. There are of course key legacy issues that the NDPP will have to address without the luxury of time, including:

A clear challenge for the Advocate is also that of dealing with an organised criminal mafia that has carefully infiltrated organs of government and curried favour with politicians. Perhaps experience gleaned over a decade at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will stand Advocate Batohi in good stead in dealing with multi-national, multi-agency and vexed matters across jurisdictions.

The message must be unremitting: South Africa is not for sale and certainly not to criminal syndicates.

In conclusion and perhaps an issue for ongoing reflection, is that of a peculiar mindset amongst South Africans. They tend to look for the ‘magic bullet’, to place the weight of responsibility on the shoulders of the “untainted” and to seek out the saviour in human form. Perhaps this is partly due to human nature but lest we forget, the Constitution as supreme law of the land must remain the vital touchstone that protects and promotes dignity, equality and freedoms for all. The role of the NDPP is to give effect and meaning to these constitutional values.

By Ms Zohra Dawood: Director, Centre for Unity in Diversity
7 December 2018

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