‘Protector lied about DA rally’

2012-08-13 00:00

PUBLIC Protector Thuli Madonsela lied to cover her association with the Democratic Alliance, the SA Communist Party alleged yesterday, after media reports claimed that Madonsela had attended a DA Women’s Day rally in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

“It is the view of the SACP that this appearance at a political rally has compromised the independence, impartiality and dignity of the office as required by law,” spokesperson Malesela Maleka said in a statement yesterday.

“The Public Protector owes the public a full and credible explanation, otherwise this behaviour on her part reinforces our strongly held suspicion that she is willingly being held hostage by … the anti-majoritarian liberal offensive against government and our alliance,” Maleka said.

Following ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga’s criticism earlier, Madonsela’s office responded by saying her attendance at the event was part of her constitutional obligation to be accessible to people and communities.

“Attendance of this meeting was a fulfilment of her constitutional obligation of being accessible to all persons and communities as espoused in the Constitution,” said her spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi.

“It was also in pursuit of the public protector’s responsibilities to be independent, impartial and in exercising her powers without fear, favour or prejudice,”

However, Maleka claimed this explanation was “bizarre”.

According to a schedule on the Public Protector’s website, between July 12 and August 31, Madonsela will be on a nationwide road show aimed at “engaging and soliciting stakeholder views and experiences on problems related to RDP houses, illegal conversions of panel vans into taxis and any other service delivery problem” affecting communities.

“The DA’s rally had nothing to do with RDP houses, the illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis or any other service delivery protest. Furthermore, this rally does not appear anywhere in the list of scheduled activities which were published on the 12th July 2012,” he said.

Motshekga had earlier “noted with concern” Madonsela’s decision to attend the event.

“Advocate Madonsela’s decision to attend a political party rally was ill-considered as it opens up her office to perceptions of political bias,” he said.

In response, Madonsela’s office said it was unfortunate that “politics seems to override reason”, adding that if the SACP was serious about the accusation, it would have approached the Public Protector to get an explanation.

“The Public Protector got an invitation from the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network and she accepted as part of the national stakeholder consultive dialogue,” Momelezi Kula, an executive manager in the protector’s office, told The Witness yesterday.

“The claim that this event does not feature in the advertised schedule of stakeholder dialogues is based on misunderstanding of the nature of the Public Protector stakeholder consultive dialogues,” Kula said. He challenged the SACP to cite 10 DA complaints that the Public Protector prioritised, and 10 SACP or any other complaints that she did not.

Madonsela has in the past been accused of bias towards the DA after her office amended her report that found that a marketing contract awarded by the Western Cape government to advertising agency TBWA/Hunt Lascaris was invalid.

She investigated the tender after a complaint by the ANC in the Western Cape.

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