The State Capture of Independent Institutions: an analysis of the National Prosecuting Authority, 1998-2017
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This thesis focuses on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa between 1998 and 2017, by looking at whether it acts as an independent institution and if it strengthens the quality of democracy in the country. The research addresses various sub-research questions such as, what is independence? What is a quality democracy? Is the NPA able to foster democratic accountability? It further assesses to which extent executive influence and leadership instability affect the independence of the NPA, by looking at the relationship between the executive – the state Presidents’ and government officials – and the NPA, over the years, in terms of the law practiced. And lastly, whether the role of ANC has affected the NPA. These questions arise out of my interest to understand the NPA in terms of its constitutional mandate and how it impacts democracy. The principal concepts used to date indicates that democracy comprises several procedural norms. These democratic norms – accountability, the constraint of executive power, the separation of powers, and the rule of law form the bases for my research study; while other integral factors include independence, state capture, and dominant party systems. The research methodology for this thesis incorporated qualitative research, a case study, and triangulation. The research also included interviews, with Advocate Shaun Abrahams, Dr Silas Ramaite, Advocate Vusi Pikoli, Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, Mr Steven Swart, Mr Lawson Naidoo, Mr Paul Hoffman, Dr Jeff Rudin, Professor Lukas Muntingh, Professor Lovell Fernandez, Mr Gareth Newham, and Advocate Mike Pothier as the interviewees. The data analysis and synthesis suggest that the lack of oversight of the NPA alongside the political dominance of the ANC has allowed for an infiltration of political influence within the institution resulting in the selective prosecution of high-profile cases. The data highlights the blurring of lines as a result of state capture which has tainted the NPA’s independence. The importance of this research study lies in the relationship of the NPA and democracy, as an erosion of the NPA essentially correlates with the weakening of democracy. Therefore it is vital to protect our independent institutions, like the NPA, as they strengthen our democracy, assist in upholding the rule of law and the Constitution.