#StateCaptureReport: Madonsela tried repeatedly to get Zuma's input

2016-11-02 19:47
New Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

New Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

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Cape Town - The presidency wanted former public protector Thuli Madonsela to hold off on her “State of Capture” report because President Jacob Zuma's diary was too full.

Instead it wanted her successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to take the matter forward, according to the long-awaited report, which was made public on Wednesday.

After cancelling a meeting with Madonsela on October 10, the presidency wanted an undertaking the next day that she would not conclude the investigation or release a report until Zuma had been allowed to question witnesses.

“I noted that I had, since my first letter to him dated March 22, 2016, gone to great lengths to provide him with sufficient detail regarding evidence implicating him and the response required from him,” Madonsela said.

“I had, in compliance with the Public Protector Act and the law on administrative justice, provided him with ample opportunity to respond in connection therewith.”

In her report, Madonsela said she tried repeatedly to get Zuma's input into her investigation, starting with her letter in March. She said she quoted extracts from the DA’s complaint and the Executive Member’s Ethics Act. 

“If you have any comments on the allegations levelled against you, I will appreciate a letter indicating such comments from you,” she said she asked Zuma.

She told Zuma she had received a request from the Dominican Order to investigate undue influence in ministers’ and deputy ministers' appointments, possible corruption, undue enrichment and undue influence in the awarding of tenders, mining licences, and government advertisements.

She asked Zuma to comment. She resent the letter on April 22, after it had apparently not reached Zuma.

No response

She told him she had to submit a report on the alleged breach of the Executive Member’s Code of Ethics within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. 

She said the investigation had not been completed due to inadequate resources.

“I received no response from the President,” said Madonsela.

However, by early September 2016, the public protector's office received additional funds to carry on with the investigation.

She wrote to him again on September 13, asking for a meeting to brief him on the investigation and to give him a chance to comment on the allegations.

These were that Zuma ought to have known and/or allowed his son Duduzane to exercise “enormous undue influence” in strategic ministerial appointments and board appointments at state-owned enterprises.

On October 1, she sent Zuma a notice in terms of the Public Protector Act, restating the complaints and adding a third complainant.

She detailed the evidence implicating Zuma before describing his responsibility under law.

“I ended off the notice by advising the President that if I do not get his version which contradicts the said evidence, there would be a possibility that I could find that the above allegations are sustained by the evidence. I detailed the various conclusions that I would make in that case.”

In the meantime, she scheduled a meeting with Zuma for October 6. The day before, October 5, she received a letter from the presidency asking for urgent advice on her findings on the veracity of allegations by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Legal objections

Jonas had gone public to claim the Guptas offered him the job of finance minister before former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was sacked in December last year.

At the scheduled October 6 meeting with Zuma, his lawyers raised various legal objections and refused to discuss the merits of the investigation or the allegations against him.

“The Presidency requested that the meeting be postponed to allow the President to study the documents provided and obtain legal advice.”

The presidency had objected to not having been provided with the relevant documents and records, and argued that they should be allowed to question witnesses who had already made statements to the protector.

She disagreed with this request and offered that Zuma reply to her written questions in an affidavit.

“The President’s legal adviser argued emphatically that the matter should be deferred to the incoming Public Protector for conclusion.”

Mkhwebane took office on October 17.

After a lengthy discussion with Zuma, he agreed to answer questions, but at a future date and after having had an opportunity to scrutinise documents, and consult his lawyer.

“I advised the President that as head of state, he is accountable to the people of the Republic, and that it is in his interest that he do so. In an attempt to demonstrate to the President that my questions to him were questions of fact, not requiring legal assistance, I posed said questions to him.”

Zuma filed notice

Zuma told Madonsela he would get back to her on October 10 with an affidavit. Instead, she received a letter from the presidency complaining that he had only been given two days before the October 6 meeting to prepare himself.

He said his lawyer should be allowed to question other witnesses and that he was entitled to documents and records gathered during the investigation so he could prepare his evidence.

“After providing the written questions to the Presidency, he made somewhat of an about-turn by deciding that in fact before deposing to an affidavit, he still required a list of witnesses, statements, affidavits and transcripts of any oral testimony and wanted to question witnesses.”

On the eve of Madonsela presenting her report on her last day in office, October 14, Zuma filed notice to apply for an urgent interdict, at the High Court in Pretoria, to keep her report under wraps.

Again at the eleventh hour, Zuma withdrew the application for the interdict on Wednesday morning. The report became available later on Wednesday.

Download the full report here:

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/download-the-full-state-of-capture-pdf-20161102

 


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