I would pay if I was Jacob Zuma – Thuli Madonsela

2014-04-04 14:30

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says if she was in Jacob Zuma’s situation she would pay.

“I would pay whatever I was asked to pay. I would negotiate of course for what is reasonable, but I would pay,” she said earlier this morning.

Madonsela was invited by the University of Johannesburg to speak at its Young African Leadership Forum. She spoke about the importance of governance and ethical principles by leaders and also lessons she had learned from recent Public Protector reports.

“What we found during the Nkandla investigations is that the code of ethics is very broad,” she said.

The Public Protector and her office concluded after two years of investigations that President Zuma benefited unduly from security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

Madonsela told the audience her office had been crucified after the report was released.

“I head a chapter nine institution and I have spoken. And I know that the only structure that can contradict me is a court of law,” she explained.

After her address, Madonsela was faced with more tough questions as a number of students in the audience doubted the legitimacy of her office to issue verdicts and rulings while not a court of law.

“I don’t understand this obsession with the court of law. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), National Consumer Tribunal and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) are all institutions that make internal decisions that are recognised by the law. Why does the argument of the court of law only apply to the Public Protector?” she asked.

Madonsela remained diplomatic throughout the question and answer session of the forum.

When asked about her thoughts on reports that the President did not intend to pay, she said; “I have decided not to comment on that statement. It was said in a private discussion and I do not know the context of the conversation.”

She stressed that her office could not force individuals to adhere to the Public Protector’s orders. “It’s not our place to dictate or force the President to pay. If you don’t pay we can’t send a sheriff.”

Madonsela said that as a country South Africa could cover more ground if it wasn’t for maladministration.

“We could do better, so that our pace is as good as our intention."

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