ConCourt ruling to have 'profound effect' on Public Protector

2015-09-30 10:28
Thuli Madonsela. (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

Thuli Madonsela. (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – The Constitutional Court’s ruling in the EFF’s Nkandla battle will profoundly affect how the Public Protector exercises her power, as a recent high court ruling had “severely compromised” her office.

These were among the submissions Public Protector Thuli Madonsela made in an affidavit filed with the Constitutional Court this week.

She submitted the affidavit in order to be admitted either as a respondent, or amicus curiae (not party to the case, but has information that could have bearing), in the EFF’s bid to have President Jacob Zuma repay part of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead. The Constitutional Court was expected to hear the matter in February.

Western Cape High Court Judge Ashton Schippers ruled on October 24, 2014 that the Public Protector’s findings and recommendations were not binding and enforceable. He however said a definite ruling was needed on the Public Protector’s powers and remedial action.

Schippers said this in his ruling that SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing against him.

Madonsela said this had become the prevailing law on the matter and it had “detrimentally impacted” her office.

Disregard for Public Protector

Politicians and organs of state had begun disregarding her reports and remedial action. Potential complainants were reluctant to come forward because it was seen as a waste of time to lodge complaints with her office. In addition, it had become easy to reject her findings, merely by the affected party saying it disagreed with the evidence.

In order to seek compliance with her reports, the complainant or Public Protector were then saddled with the additional burden of having to go to court.

Madonsela said she had a substantial interest in the EFF’s case because the Constitutional Court’s ruling would affect her powers in all other matters.

She said the Constitution empowered her to do more than just investigate and report, but also to take appropriate remedial action. Any remedial action was binding and enforceable, unless set aside by a court.

To interpret her powers as the high court had done in the SABC matter would render her office “ineffective as a constitutional bulwark against government malfeasance”, she said.

Read more on:    public protector  |  eff  |  thuli madonsela  |  johannesburg  |  nkandla upgrade

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