Cele calls off media briefing on Madonsela’s report

2011-07-21 00:00

THE office of national Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele has refused to give an explanation as to why a media conference scheduled for today was cancelled for the second time yesterday.

Cele was expected to respond to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on maladministration claims.

The conference, which was first scheduled for Tuesday, was cancelled reportedly due to “unforeseen” circumstances.

Cele’s spokesperson, Nonkululeko Mbatha, confirmed yesterday that the conference was about Madonsela’s report, but she refused to give reasons as to why it was cancelled twice.

Mbatha wouldn’t respond to the question of whether the cancellation has anything to do with a comment by government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi that the cabinet was being disadvantaged by the report being made public before it was submitted to cabinet, .

“I won’t get into details on the cancellation matter. A decision was taken to call the briefing off and I can’t say it will still happen in the future or not,” she said.

In the report, which was broadcast live on television last week, Madonsela questioned Cele’s involvement in the controversial lease of the Transnet Building in Durban to the police by Roux Shabangu for inflated rates.

The report suggests that the lease agreement would cost up to R1,1 billion in 10 years and it found Cele’s action was tantamount to maladministration.

Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde was also criticised in the report.

Government spokesperson Manyi reportedly said cabinet was disadvantaged by the release of the report to the public.

He was yesterday quoted as saying Madonsela did this “in a manner that was not anticipated by the cabinet” and that “the executive has not had the time to look at the report and apply its mind and the public is already making pronouncements on what should be done”.

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said that as a Section 9 institution the public protector has no obligation to give preference to cabinet where the submission of reports is concerned.

In an interview with The Witness about the comment that Madonsela had made it difficult for cabinet to act on the her report, De Vos said Madonsela could do so in exceptional cases, using her own discretion.

“There are exceptional cases where she would have used her discretion not to make a report public before tabling it before cabinet. Such cases include a report that would jeopardise state security or cause political instability.

“The next step now is for the president and the executive to act on the report regardless of who got it first,” said De Vos.

The Democratic Alliance has called on President Jacob Zuma to act on Cele and Mahlangu-Nkabinde.

The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement, “Each day that the president fails to take action represents a further erosion of the values on which our democracy is built. If the two don’t resign, the president must prove his commitment to promoting and protecting the values on which our democracy is based, and dismiss them both.”

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