Madonsela stands firm after chief whip’s attack

2014-03-27 08:37

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is standing her ground regarding her handling of the Nkandla report amid attacks by ANC chief whip Stone Sizani in Parliament.

Sizani accused Madonsela of overstepping her mark at a media briefing in Parliament yesterday.

He said Madonsela was obliged to submit her report to Parliament and suggested that by waiting for a presidential response, she was disrgarding her accountability to the legislature.

Madonsela said she had merely followed the law.

“The Speaker has not requested the Public Protector to submit the report in terms of the Public Protector Act and neither has the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP),” her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said in a statement.

“The Public Protector will dispatch the report should it be requested by the Speaker or the chairperson of the NCOP.”

The 400-page report titled “Secure in Comfort” found that President Jacob Zuma should pay back a portion of the R246 million in state funds that was spent at Nkandla but did not go towards improving security measures.

Madonsela has, in line with the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, given Zuma two weeks to respond to her report.

Segalwe said the Public Protector’s submission of a report to Parliament is regulated by the Public Protector Act, which states that the Public Protector will, at any time, submit a report to the National Assembly on the findings of a particular investigation if:

» He or she deems it necessary;

» He or she deems it in the public interest;

» If it requires the urgent attention of, or an intervention by, the National Assembly;

» He or she is requested to do so by the Speaker of the National Assembly; or

» He or she is requested to do so by the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

“In view of the fact that the report was to be submitted to the National Assembly by the president within 14 days of its issuing by the Public Protector, in her view, none of the circumstances in 1 to 3 above existed at the time of the delivery of the report,” he said.

Segalwe said the Speaker (Max Sisulu) had not asked Madonsela to submit the report in terms of the act and neither had the chairperson of the NCOP.

She would dispatch the report if it was requested by Sisulu or the NCOP.

“The Public Protector decided to follow the law because of the difficulty she experienced with the IEC report,” he said.

Efforts to meet Sisulu before the release of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) report did not materialise.

Madonsela’s IEC report found that chairperson Pansy Tlakula acted irregularly in the procurement of the IEC office building in Centurion, south of Pretoria.

Madonsela denied Sizani’s remarks that she referred to the interministerial committee appointed to probe the Nkandla upgrades as the “little committee of ministers”.

“Firstly, the Public Protector never referred to the inter-ministerial committee as a ‘little committee of ministers’... She said a ‘committee of officials’,” Segalwe said.

He said Madonsela stood by her statement that the committee’s report could not be compared to a report coming from an independent constitutional body.

This was because it was the result of an investigation conducted by a committee of officials “appointed by a minister whose department’s conduct was in question”.

“The committee was not an independent institution nor did it have legal standing,” he said.

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