Being the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) would have been her dream job, but withdrawing from the shortlist of candidates was for the sake of keeping politics out of the office, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said on Wednesday.
A panel assisting President Cyril Ramaphosa with the appointment of a new NDPP included Breytenbach - a former prosecutor – on a shortlist of 12 candidates vying for the post. The Pretoria Bar nominated her.
But, at a press conference in Cape Town on Wednesday, Breytenbach said: "The national director should be someone who is fiercely independent and who will prosecute without fear or favour and with independence."
She said the office needed somebody who was apolitical and could take away its "toxic" environment.
"While I have no doubt I can do that... having given the matter a lot of thought I can't escape the perception that I am a politician and I will bring that perception to that role if I am appointed and I don't believe it is in the interests of the [NPA].
"I'm not particularly disappointed. It's a dream job. I'm very happy with the job that I have," said Breytenbach.
The vacancy arose after former NDPP Shaun Abrahams left in August after the Constitutional Court declared Abrahams' appointment invalid and gave Ramaphosa 90 days to find a new NDPP.
Ramaphosa appointed Silas Ramaite as acting head of the NPA in August.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he thought Breytenbach was capable of being the NDPP, even a minister of justice.
"She's certainly fearless, tough, brave, doesn't mince her words and is someone who I have the utmost respect for," said Maimane.
However, he said the party believed the post had been abused for political purposes and wanted the office to have a clean break from that.
"We are of the view that to restore the credibility of the state, those appointed cannot [have] connections to party political work," said Maimane.
"It is not enough to know that the person will act independently, they must also be seen to act independently.
"It is an opportunity to show that the criminal justice system will no longer be used for political acts," he said.
Breytenbach was a senior prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit.
She was suspended from the NPA ostensibly for her handling of a complex mining rights case involving Kumba Iron Ore and Imperial Crown Trading.
She has served on Parliament's portfolio committees on justice and constitutional development, the Constitutional Review Committee and the ad-hoc committee on the police minister's report on Nkandla.
Maimane said the party would also try and reintroduce a Bill to Parliament that proposed a constitutional amendment that the president decides on a new NDPP only on recommendation of Parliament and after a transparent process.
The DA previously took the Presidency to the Constitutional Court over the way former NDPP Menzi Simelane was appointed in 2009.