You are not a judge, Zuma tells Madonsela

2014-09-11 18:02

President Jacob Zuma has responded to Thuli Madonsela, telling her he disagrees with her view that reports of the Public Protector are not subject to review by a minister or Cabinet.

In a terse response, Zuma told Madonsela that she was not a judge; her reports are not court judgments, but rather she’s an Ombud whose reports are only useful tools.

“The role of the Public Protector is akin to that of an Ombud and quite distinct from that of a judge. Similarly, reports emanating from a Public Protector process are not judgements to be followed under pain of a contempt order, but rather useful tools in assisting democracy in a co-operative manner, sometimes rather forcefully,” he wrote.

Zuma said Madonsela was wrong when she says that her reports are not subject to reviews and that he cannot be forced to rubberstamp her findings without applying his mind to them first.

“Should my election only be to review your decision or rubberstamp it, I would be failing in the discharge of my own constitutional responsibilities, acting in an irrational manner and flouting the principles of legality.”

He said he had given the responsibility of deciding whether he is liable for any repayments in respect of upgrades to his Nkandla estate to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko because he could not be a judge in his own case.

“I consider the Minister of Police to be the appropriate functionary for the purpose and reasons tendered in my report to the National Assembly.”

Zuma urged Madonsela to allow Parliament, which has established an ad-hoc committee on Nkandla, space to process her report and other reports that have been compiled on the controversial R246 million upgrades.

Zuma’s response follows a row that has been brewing since Madonsela’s seven page response to him was leaked to City Press.

In the letter, Madonsela denounced Zuma’s response to the Speaker of the National Assembly in August. She told him that tasking the minister to determine if he’s liable for Nkandla repayments was illegal since ministers could not second guess her reports and told him that he had not responded at all to her report titled Secure in Comfort, as required by law.

The leaking of the letter led to numerous attacks on Madonsela’s office by the ANC and its alliance partners. On Saturday, deputy defence and military veterans minister Kebby Maphatsoe labelled Madonsela a CIA spy. He later withdrew the remark and apologised after a public outcry and threats by Madonsela to take legal action against him.

Interestingly the Presidency has decided to publicise the letter which is internal correspondence between it and Madonsela’s office.

Meanwhile, the Presidency today said Zuma had submitted to Parliament the final Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into the Nkandla security upgrades.

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