Madonsela spy row: State lets Maphatsoe face music alone

2014-09-09 11:31

The government has distanced itself from Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe’s accusation that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.

With Maphatsoe becoming more isolated, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said his accusations against Madonsela did not reflect the views of the government.

“The government distances itself from such accusations as they were never discussed at any official government meeting nor do they reflect the views and thinking of the government,” said Radebe.

Radebe’s remarks came as the United States embassy said it would lodge an official complaint with South Africa’s government for what it regarded as “deeply offensive accusations”.

“We categorically reject the baseless and offensive accusations from the deputy minister and will lodge a complaint through diplomatic channels,” tweeted US ambassador Patrick Gaspard.

Maphatsoe’s accusations have also angered Madonsela who has given the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association chairperson three days to either provide evidence to back his claim or retract the allegation altogether. Madonsela has threatened criminal and other action if Maphatsoe doesn’t retract his statement.

The ANC summoned Maphatsoe to a meeting yesterday to explain his utterances, which the party described as “unfortunate”.

At a press conference at Luthuli House yesterday, Maphatsoe seemed to be making an about-turn and said his comments were misconstrued.

He watered them down, saying Madonsela “thinks she is God”.

In a bid to defuse tension between the South African government and the US administration, Radebe said: “Comments or allegations against any country or persons including those responsible for guarding and upholding constitutional values should be raised and addressed at appropriate platforms. South Africa enjoys a cordial diplomatic relationship with the United States of America.”

He said the government respected the role played by chapter nine institutions, especially the Public Protector.

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