Nkandla: Thuli Madonsela's tough letter to Jacob Zuma

2014-08-24 15:00

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has taken the fight over Nkandla back to President Jacob Zuma. She has warned him that his suggestion that the police minister determine whether he ought to repay money spent on upgrades was illegal.

In the letter, which is in the possession of City Press, Madonsela tells Zuma in no uncertain terms that the response he submitted to Parliament two weeks ago did not address her findings – contained in her report Secure in Comfort.

She also warned that his failure to properly address her findings could set a bad precedent and “lead to impunity at various levels of state”.

Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Cornel van Heerden/Foto24

In her report, Madonsela ordered that Zuma pay for all non-security related expenses at Nkandla. These include the swimming pool, amphitheatre, cattle kraal and the visitors’ centre.

She said the SA Police Service and Treasury should help him determine how much he owed.

But Zuma’s response left it to new Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to determine if he was liable and should repay any of the R246?million spent upgrading his Nkandla estate.

Madonsela said she was concerned that the head of administration in the presidency had not responded to her report with indications of the remedial action that would be taken.

She warned Zuma that his suggestion that Nhleko determine if he owed any money related to Nkandla would be illegal – the police minister does not have the power to review any of her decisions, or to second-guess her.

“I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law, which is to review my decision taken in pursuit of the powers of administrative scrutiny I am given by?...?the Constitution,” she said.

Madonsela said asking the police minister to report to Cabinet whether Zuma should pay undermined the rule of law and gave Cabinet powers it did not have. Only the courts had such power.

“As I have already indicated, reports of the Public Protector are by law not subject to any review or second-guessing by a minister and/or the Cabinet.

“The findings made and remedial action taken by the Public Protector can be judicially reviewed and set aside only by a court of law,” she wrote.

Giving the police minister power he does not have would also encourage impunity at various levels of state, she wrote.

She said it would not augur well, in terms of the rule of law, if Zuma, at the pinnacle of government, did not uphold it.

Madonsela said by taking this action, Zuma was indicating he was not happy with her finding that he pay back some of the money spent on non-security features at Nkandla, his private house.

She reminded him that he was required by law to respond exhaustively to her findings about what remedial action he planned to take to address points she raised in the report.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Lerato Maduna/Foto24

Zuma’s 20-page response to Parliament did not address any of those findings.

“I could find no indication in your report that you were responding to the contents of my report, commenting on it and were reporting to the National Assembly on the actions that you have taken or are taking to implement remedial action.

“I have also noticed your report excludes some of my findings and remedial action,” she wrote.

Zuma’s office insisted last week that the president had responded to all reports before him, including the Public Protector’s report.

Madonsela refused to discuss the letter when contacted yesterday, saying it was confidential.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said: “We have received the letter from Ms Madonsela and it is being attended to.”

Madonsela gave Zuma until September 4 to respond to her letter.

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