MPs list complaints against Thuli Madonsela

2013-07-23 15:22

MPs have refined a list of allegations against Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, which she must answer to next week.

Parliament’s justice portfolio committee met today to discuss how it would deal with numerous complaints, many made anonymously, of maladministration in Madonsela’s office by staff.

Madonsela, who is set to appear before the committee on August 2, will also have to answer to allegations made by her former deputy Mamiki Shai.

Committee chairman Luwellyn Landers said there were several allegations to which Madonsela would have to respond, including:

» Noncompliance with policy with regard to overseas travel and transfer of staff;

» No clear demarcation of roles between the deputy public protector and the CEO;

» Inadequate allocation of resources to the deputy public protector;

» Questionable internal controls; and

» Fruitless expenditure.

A letter containing these and other complaints would be sent to Madonsela so she could adequately prepare a response.

Some MPs have added to the list, including Democratic Alliance MP Debbie Schafer.

She said: “I was particularly concerned about allegations regarding the appointment of ... Mthethwa. There were allegations that Mthethwa was previously suspended from Salga [the SA Local Government Association] and that he didn’t disclose this.”

Schafer was referring to Madonsela’s CEO Themba Mthethwa, who is currently under police investigation.

Madonsela has been accused of protecting him.

In November, Shai told the committee that in the course of her work in the public protector’s office, her signature had been forged by Mthethwa and that the matter had been reported to the police.

Landers said Madonsela would not be asked to respond to this particular allegation, as the matter was currently in the hands of the police and the prosecuting authorities.

While some MPs believed the Auditor-General and other institutions should be asked to investigate, most felt the committee should be allowed to hear from Madonsela, compile a report, and make recommendations to the National Assembly.

The House could then decide to pass a resolution and ask the relevant authorities to investigate, where necessary.

MPs agreed many of the allegations would be difficult to investigate, as they had been made anonymously.

“If you receive allegations from members of the public and staff members who wish to remain anonymous and we refer such an allegation to the public protector, she’ll turn around and say: ‘When did this happen? Where did this happen? Who is this person? I have the right to interrogate this person’s allegations.’ And then the whole thing just flounders, and she’ll be perfectly in her rights to do so,” Landers said.

He added that while the committee could make recommendations, it was not a tribunal with investigative powers.

MPs would try to establish whether there were internal mechanisms within the protector’s office to deal with staff grievances.

If not, this would have to be dealt with, he said.

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