DA defends action on protector report
Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance laying criminal charges over the Public Protector's reports on the SA Police lease deals helped in the fight against corruption, the party said on Tuesday.
The DA was responding to the Presidency saying it was "hasty" and it could jeopardise the government's fight against corruption by laying the charges.
"The President is wrong. His suggestion that by laying criminal charges in connection with the Public Protector's reports regarding the SAPS leases we are acting frivolously, misrepresents and misunderstands the seriousness of our intention," said DA federal chairperson Wilmot James and justice spokesperson Debbie Schafer in a statement.
"Claims that our actions are 'hasty' and 'could jeopardise the government's' fight against corruption' make no sense at all. If anything, we are assisting with the fight against corruption, and our actions were anything but hasty.
"We have been waiting since February to hear what the President is going to do about this matter. What the President should be telling us, is why, given the importance of the issue, and the fact that he has had most of the facts at his disposal since the first report was issued in February, he was not ready to take action immediately the second report was issued.
"There is therefore no compelling reason why he has not himself referred them to the police."
The DA announced on Sunday that it had laid criminal charges against police chief General Bheki Cele, Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu Nkabinde, businessman Roux Shabangu, and Public Works Director-General Siviwe Dongwana.
Responding to this, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said it was a "pity" the DA failed to get its "basic facts right" and "rushed for a publicity-seeking stunt".
He said President Jacob Zuma was systematically processing the Public Protector's report into two leases for new police headquarters.
"In fact, the president made a speech to the media on August 4 that he was submitting a report to the Speaker (of Parliament) on that same day," said Maharaj.
"This shows how seriously and systematically he is processing the public protector's report... that is because corruption is a serious problem in this country," he said.
Last month, Madonsela said the Durban lease would have been worth R1.16bn over 10 years, and that of the Middestad Building in Pretoria R604m over the same period.
The DA said the charges laid against Cele had been brought under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Government Immovable Asset Management Act.
Mahlangu Nkabinde had been accused of contravening the Public Protector Act by failing to co-operate with the Public Protector and continuing to implement the lease agreements.
The DA said it had also laid charges against her and Shabangu under the Intimidation Act for their treatment of Dongwana.
The party had laid charges against him for allegedly contravening PFMA and Treasury regulations by failing to report to the Treasury and the Auditor-General the reasons for deviating from a competitive tender process.
Zuma has reportedly accepted the Protector's findings on the two leases and a recommendation of remedial action.
The Sunday Tribune reported that he did so in a letter to Madonsela, according to her spokesperson Kgalelo Masibi.
Madonsela was "happy" with the response, but had urged Zuma to take action.