Madonsela apologises for keeping MPs waiting

2011-10-15 07:27

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela earned the ire of MPs, who waited for her to appear before them on Friday, while she was elsewhere in Parliament releasing her damning report on Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka.

She has since apologised, saying there had been confusion about the time she was due at the portfolio committee on justice to discuss her institution’s annual report.

The committee waited for an hour while Madonsela was handing her report to Ben Turok and Buoang Mashile, the co-chairs of Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests, then walked out.

“Committee members expressed anger, dismay and serious concern at this display of lack of decency, etiquette, and respect for the institution of Parliament and one of its committees,” said the ANC chairman of the committee Luwellyn Landers.

Landers said he was not told Madonsela would be briefing the media at 9am instead of briefing the committee.

“The thing that really angered committee members was that I, as committee chairman, was not informed at any stage by the public protector,” he said.

“I heard on the radio on my way to work that she would be briefing the media, but there was no mention of where or when.”

But the public protector’s CEO, Themba Mthethwa, said there had been a misunderstanding because Madonsela believed she was due before the committee at 10am.

“There was a bungle, a lack of communication. The public protector has just written a letter of apology to the chairman and to each member of the committee individually,” Mthethwa said.

“The media briefing was just a sideshow. The main event was the briefing to the committee, and she got there a few minutes after 10 am.”
Just before 10 am, Madonsela told journalists she could take only two questions because the committee was expecting her.

She left shortly afterwards for the meeting in the Marks Building but arrived to an empty room.

DA MP Dene Smuts said the committee should allow for the possibility that there had been a misunderstanding but added: “We are not well pleased.”

Landers said he had not yet scheduled another meeting.

“We were in no mood to even contemplate it.”

Madonsela found that Shiceka had abused hundreds of thousands of rands in public funds and called on President Jacob Zuma to take “serious action” against him within 60 days. 

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