Challenging day ahead of Madonsela's final push

2016-10-14 08:02
Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has spent her last night in office consulting her lawyers after two parties tried to gag her much-anticipated report into allegations of "state capture".

President Jacob Zuma and Local Government Minister Des Van Rooyen have applied to the courts to interdict the release of the report.

By late last night, her office said it was still taking legal advice on the interdicts.

However, Madonsela is going ahead with her final media briefing, marking the end of her seven-year tenure.

"At 2pm Madonsela will release her last batch of investigation reports," read a tweet from her office’s account on Thursday evening. It also said she would give a progress report on other matters.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma’s office confirmed that he had applied for an application to interdict the public protector from releasing her findings and the matter is due to be heard in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday.

Van Rooyen has taken a similar route, seeking to challenge the powers of Madonsela’s office on her last day on the job. His matter will also be heard in the high court just hours before her final engagement with the media.

Gupta allegations

There has been wild speculation around the investigation which she embarked on after a complaint was laid by the Dominican Order of South Africa – the Catholic brothers and priests wanted her to look into the influential Gupta family after numerous allegations surfaced that they had offered some people cabinet posts in exchange for tenders.

Another complaint Madonsela investigated was whether it amounted to corruption when cabinet intervened in what is a "supposedly private matter" when the banks closed the Gupta-owned company's accounts.

This saw Minerals and Energy Minister Mosebenzi Zwane releasing a statement which claimed that cabinet has recommended a judicial inquiry into the matter. President Zuma however distanced cabinet from the statement.

The banks have not given reasons for the account closure but cited risks to their reputations, however it is believed some might have spoken to and given Madonsela reasons for the move.

The report is expected to shed more light on some of the family’s business dealings, their relationship with the president and his family, including his son Duduzane and nephew Khulubuse Zuma, and links to the Indian Bank.

EFF leader Julius Malema earlier confirmed that he gave evidence to Madonsela.

In March this year, he claimed that President Jacob Zuma visited the United Arab Emirates to drop off R6bn belonging to the Guptas.

Zuma within rights

It is not clear whether his evidence to Madonsela shed more light on his claims.

"Zuma was in UAE recently in Dubai. That was not an official visit, it was a personal one. Zuma took money to UAE. That is where they are dumping money. The Guptas have taken R6bn to Dubai," Malema told reporters following the Nkandla Constitutional Court judgment.

For some, the hope is that Madonsela’s investigation might provide clarity around some of the battles which have played out in the country’s newspapers, such as Eskom and treasury’s spat over the Gupta-owned Tegeta Resources, and the real state of the nuclear deal.

Vytjie Mentor and Mcebisi Jonas have already admitted to being interviewed in relation to the matter, so has Atul Gupta and several others.

There is still no clarity on whether or not South Africans will get to hear the contents of the preliminary report from Madonsela as she prepares to walk away from being the country’s beloved public protector, or if her successor Busisiwe Mkhwebane will put the matter on top of her priority list.

On Thursday evening, Madonsela’s team had no answers as to the way forward, only telling journalists she was still consulting her legal team.

The constitutional court declared that the public protector's findings are binding unless reviewed by the courts, suggesting that Zuma and Van Rooyen were within their rights to go to court.

They supported President Zuma's demand that his lawyers question the court, and claimed that Van Rooyen never met with the public protector.

Read more on:    public protector  |  jacob zuma  |  des van rooyen  |  thuli madonsela  |  corruption  |  politics

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