ANC says public protector does not need more funds

2014-10-30 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The ANC deems that the public protector (PP) does not need more money, despite her pleas that her office is a “technically insolvent”.

A meeting of the portfolio committee on justice yesterday made no mention of any assistance.

Committee chair Mathole Motshekga said the committee had not yet decided if it would ask the treasury to give the PP more money.

The committee will first visit the PP’s offices in Pretoria before taking a decision, he said.

DA MP Werner Horn drily remarked that the ANC had already “packed their knives” for the inspection.

The meeting came a day after the ANC said it finds it strange the PP office pleads poverty while it is willing to spend a fortune to appeal a high court finding on Thuli Madonsela’s authority.

Madonsela said her office needs about R65 million to do its work, but ANC MP advocate Bongani Bongo said the PP should not get any more funds.

Madonsela yesterday met for hours with the PP’s executive committee to discuss the road ahead after a high court ruling last week in effect lowered the powers of the PP’s office to those of an ombudsman.

PP spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the exco decided to appeal this high court finding, as it was as yet unclear under the Constitution whether the PP has the same powers as the advocate-general, the ombudsman under the Nationalist Party government before 1996.

Segalwe said the main argument will be that the 1996 Constitution increased the powers of the PP above those of an ombudsman’s office.

The PP has a litigation budget of R1,6 million for the current financial year and will pay for its appeal against the ruling from this fund.

The case may cost a lot more, which will place the PP’s office under more financial pressure.

Madonsela said private donors had offered to fund her office in this appeal, but she had decided not to accept the money. This after ANC MPs in July rapped her over the fingers for accepting a donation from a German agency for international co-operation, GIZ, arguing it would damage the independence and integrity of her office.

The portfolio committee yesterday accepted a budget oversight document, in terms of which the PP has the authority “to investigate, report and recommend rectifying steps”.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach pointed out to Motshekga it should be “to take” rectifying steps as the Constitution stipulates. Motshekga, however, said it is what the Constitution said and “we are not here to amend the Constitution”.

Referring to the court’s decision, he said the ruling has cleared up the situation, which in the past did not make it clear who had which rights, and now everyone could follow the law as set out by the court.

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