ANC tears into Madonsela, accuses her of bias undermining her office

2015-10-12 17:37
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Lerato Maduna/Foto24

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Lerato Maduna/Foto24

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The ANC has slammed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for joining the EFF’s challenge in the Constitutional Court that seeks to force President Jacob Zuma to follow her findings and pay back some of the money spent on upgrades at Nkandla.

By joining the case lodged by the Economic Freedom Fighters against Zuma and also Parliament, the Public Protector had decided to “align herself with a political party”, which was “ill-advised and unfortunate”, said the office of the ANC chief whip, Stone Sizani, in a statement today.

“It has the potential to fundamentally dent that chapter-nine institution’s reputation as an institution that is politically impartial. It makes a mockery of the very principles she ought to uphold in the eyes of the public,” said the statement.

The chief whip said that legal cases brought by the likes of the EFF and the Democratic Alliance were not about the defence of the rule of law and the Constitution as they claimed, but were “driven by oppositional political interests”.

“It would be naive for anyone, least of all the Public Protector, to believe otherwise.”

“If the Public Protector had similar interest in the legal matter brought by the EFF, she could have brought her case before the court separately instead of jumping on to [the] political bandwagon of the EFF. It is unprecedented that a constitutional institution would volunteer itself as a willing and useful vehicle for a political party’s agenda in this fashion.”

The decision fuelled perceptions that the Public Protector had a “pro-opposition agenda bias”, said the chief whip.

“Her lack of political sensitivity and disregard for perceptions are reflective of someone who lacks wisdom and discernment.”

The Public Protector applied for – and was granted - direct access in the EFF’s case. In her affidavit to be a friend of the Constitutional Court or a respondent, she said her office had been “severely compromised” by a Western Cape High Court ruling that her findings were not legally binding. She argued that in terms of the Constitution, her office was independent and “subject only to the Constitution and the law”.

In the latest court development last week involving SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that her findings were in fact binding and could not be ignored unless they were legally challenged.

The DA also applied for, and has been granted, access to the EFF’s case in the highest court of the country.

The EFF argues that both Parliament and Zuma have failed in their constitutional duties by disregarding the Public Protector’s findings.

The Nkandla controversy has dragged on for more than 18 months since Madonsela released her Secure in Comfort report on spending at Zuma’s homestead. She recommended that Zuma “unduly benefited” and should pay back a “reasonable percentage of the cost” as determined by the treasury.

The Constitutional Court case will be heard on February 9.

Responding to the criticism on Monday night,  the Public Protector said she was "shocked".

"The Public Protector also considers it a veiled threat about her continued occupation of the position of Public Protector,"  she said in an emailed reply.

"The decision to join the EFF in the matter was informed by the "nothing about us without us" principle. In other words, the Public Protector sought to avoid a situation where her office's powers are determined without her input."

"The Public Protector confined herself to the powers of the office and not the merits of the EFF's argument. This is because the Public Protector believes that her report speaks for itself."

She said Public Protector institutions across the globe acted in similar ways

Read more on:    thuli ­madonsela  |  eff  |  anc

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