A government that takes you to court is a good one – Thuli Madonsela

2014-05-30 16:06

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela welcomes the court action Cabinet’s security cluster has promised to lodge against her, following the release of the Nkandla report.

“A government that takes you to court is a good government. It shows that it won’t just sit in a little corner and decide that it’s going to ignore the findings of the Public Protector,” she said at an alumni event hosted by the University of Johannesburg last night.

Earlier this month, ministers in the security cluster said they planned to approach a high court for a judicial review of Madonsela’s report on the R246 million spent on security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s homestead.

She found that the president and his family had unduly benefited from non-security features constructed at taxpayers’ expense.

Madonsela said the most challenging part of her job was the “demonisation of her team”.

“My team feels offended because they do their best to seek the truth. They should treat me the same way as they are treating the judge [Thokozile Masipa] in the Oscar Pistorius case.”

She advised the new ministers in the security cluster to read her report carefully: “Read that report. Don’t rely on somebody else to do that for you.”

Madonsela said she had been falsely accused of not wanting the president to be safe because people hadn’t read the report thoroughly. “The issue was around items that were not security items according to security experts. You cannot find a fire pool or a chicken run at ADT.”

She said, as a country, South Africa had made great progress in the last two decades. “I see people in government who go beyond the call of duty to ensure that they change people’s lives.”

Madonsela remained diplomatic throughout the discussion.

When asked about the reappointment of former national commissioner of police Bheki Cele as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, she said the appointment wasn’t an endorsement of his past behaviour.

“When society puts people in leadership it doesn’t mean you should do what you did yesterday. When people vote in people who have made mistakes it’s not an endorsement, it’s probably with the hope that this time around [they] will do better.”

She used the analogy of an abused spouse to further illustrate the point.

“An abused spouse says: You are my childhood sweetheart, you once loved me and you tell me that you love me, so I’ll stay. But they don’t stay because they enjoy the abuse or because they are giving you a licence to continue abusing them. They stay with you because of the hope that you would change your ways.”

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