Protector may be interfering: ANC
Cape Town - It appears Public Protector Thuli Madonsela may be interfering in Parliament's legislative process, the ANC said on Thursday.
The ANC was concerned over recent correspondence she sent to the speaker of the National Assembly about the protection of state information bill, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said in a statement.
This dealt with the non-inclusion of a public interest defence clause in the bill approved by the National Assembly last month.
Madonsela's office had also been quoted in the media as expressing concern over the bill and indicating that it would investigate the absence of a public interest defence in the bill if a complaint was made.
"If media reports are correct, then the public protector appears to interfere in Parliament's legislative process by questioning and threatening to investigate the institution's legislative decisions," Motshekga said.
"The action of the public protector worryingly implies that Parliament is accountable to the office of the public protector, when in fact the opposite is true in terms of the Constitution."
Accountable to Parliament
All state institutions supporting constitutional democracy, including Madonsela's office, were accountable to Parliament.
"In this regard, and if the media reports are anything to go by, the public protector's action is at odds with the Constitution and strongly suggests that she has over-extended her authority," Motshekga said.
No one had the right to interfere in the business of Parliament except in accordance with the Constitution and the rules of Parliament itself.
As a Chapter 9 institution, the office of the public protector had the right to make submissions on draft legislation before Parliament.
However, a Chapter 9 institution could not question Parliament's legislative decisions or meddle in Parliament's law-making processes, he said.
"Writing to the speaker expressing concern on the legislative process or decision is bizarre, as the speaker cannot be held responsible for or [be] expected to explain legislative decision of the assembly," Motshekga said.
"As the head of the institution, the speaker's function is to facilitate the legislative processes, not to justify or clarify the decisions that political parties or members of the assembly make on legislation.
Motshekga added: "We are, however, hopeful that now that the public protector's office has shown interest in this bill, it will prepare proposals on the bill for submission to the National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc committee when it opens its public consultations drive [on the bill]."
Madonsela's spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.