Madonsela: 2013 was my toughest year

2013-12-29 14:00

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says she’s saddened that the “political skirmishes” of 2013 “took away time and attention from cases affecting ordinary people”.

In an interview with City Press’ sister paper, Rapport, whose readers named her their newsmaker of the year, Madonsela said this had been “perhaps the toughest of my four years as Public Protector”.

“I hope 2014 will be better,” she said.

Though her office is closed at the moment for the festive season, her team’s report into spending on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home is top of mind.

Asked what she considered to be her biggest challenge in the new year, Madonsela replied: “Unfortunately, getting the Nkandla investigation [finished] seems to be the major challenge to be tackled first.”

The report is due to be released towards the middle of January.

“I do hope and pray for an informed reaction to my findings on the Nkandla report.

“It’s important to me that people understand that the investigation is purely based on our understanding of the regulatory framework [authority to act and stipulated processes for exercising such authority], our assessment of the extent to which all actions taken in respect of the Nkandla project were within the parameters of the authority conferred by the regulatory framework and complied with stipulated processes for the exercise of such authority.”

She’s got high hopes for 2014, the 20th anniversary of democratic South Africa.

“I hope 2014 will be characterised by the maturity that comes with democracies that have come of age, particularly inspired by reflections on 20 years of democracy and our collective tribute to Madiba.”

Madonsela knows there’s far more to the year ahead than the Nkandla investigation and report.

“The next big challenge is getting Treasury to give the office more money to increase investigation staff with a view to ensuring that the office has adequate capacity for balancing the thoroughness and swiftness of investigations.”

The hard work’s not all professional, she concedes.

“The biggest challenge, though, is a personal one involving the wisdom to stay focused and not be distracted or influenced by noise, whether negative or positive.”

For now, one of the country’s most recognisable figures is enjoying a bit of down time.

“The furthest I plan to go is my kasi in Soweto, where I spend a day with my family and deliver festive season hampers mostly to families on my street and other selected beneficiaries.

“Due to the hustle and bustle of travelling I experience throughout the year at work, I try not to travel during the festive season. I also have unfinished work to be finalised by January 3.

“I’m spending a lot of time with my family, talking and playing board games, among other things. I am also catching up on reading, mostly spiritual books, magazines and some of the books I have been given as gifts.”

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