Presidency upset over 'urban legend'
Johannesburg - The presidency has still not reacted to the second public protector report because it is busy "following due process", a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Forty-five days after a provisional draft of the "Against the Rules Too" report made front-page news in the Sunday Times, President Jacob Zuma had yet to react to findings against police chief General Bheki Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement: "We have... noted the lamentations by commentators that it is taking too long to respond to the Public Protector reports. Things are done procedurally in government and decisions that are taken must be informed by facts, after following due process.
"Government does not act without interrogating information placed before it.
"President Zuma has been engaging the minister of police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa and Minister Mahlangu-Nkabinde as there is information that is required from them in response to the reports."
Once this process was concluded, Zuma would submit a report to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Maharaj said the presidency was upset about "an urban legend" that had "crept into" editorial comment and columns in "some media products".
"The urban legend doing the rounds states that President Jacob Zuma relieved Mr Geoff Doidge of his duties as public works minister in October last year and appointed Miss Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde in his place for the sole purpose of getting her to approve the leases, which Mr Doidge had apparently dodged to do," said Maharaj.
"This is all based on a rumour that Mr Roux Shabangu, owner of the buildings, is supposedly a friend of the president. The rumours are without foundation and it is disappointing that some newsrooms have published or broadcast the rumours as fact, without even checking with the presidency.
"The president barely knows Mr Shabangu and any statement to the contrary is false."
Also, there was no link between the "release" of Doidge and the appointment of Mahlangu-Nkabinde, said Maharaj.
The Sunday Times ran the story alleging mismanagement in a lease agreement for police offices in Durban on June 19.
On July 14, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela officially released her findings, saying Zuma should take action against Mahlangu-Nkabinde for failing to co-operate with her office during an investigation into two controversial building leases, one in Pretoria, the other in Durban.
Madonsela said the police's attempts to lease the building from Shabangu amounted to maladministration.
Cele's failure to ensure the correct tender procedures were followed also amounted to maladministration, she added.
In February this year, Madonsela officially issued her first report, titled "Against the Rules", alleging unlawful police lease deals. It dealt with a R500 million deal for new police headquarters in Pretoria.