No public spats for Public Protector

2013-05-10 15:26

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will not engage in a public debate with her deputy, Kevin Malunga, but will hold internal discussions instead, her office has said.

Malunga wrote to the parliamentary portfolio committee, which conducts oversight over the office of the Public Protector, on Monday to distance himself from Madonsela’s views in Parliament.

The Mail&Guardian reported today that Malunga had said there was no conflict between him and Madonsela, and that their relationship was civil and professional.

“There is nothing wrong in having different views. We should, in fact, have different views,” Malunga told the newspaper, and said he and Madonsela “agreed to disagree”.

In a statement today, Madonsela’s spokesperson Kgalalelo Msibi said Madonsela had already indicated that the issue would be deliberated on with Malunga and other staff at the next think tank meeting.

“The think tank is a committee comprising of the public protector, deputy public protector [Malunga], the executive, and senior managers, as well as investigators,” she said.

Last Thursday, ANC MP John Jeffery voiced concern about whether the protector’s investigations were appropriately aligned to its resources.

Jeffery questioned the investigation of a dispute between former National Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi and trade and industry department head Lionel October after Mohlala-Mulaudzi lost two cases on the matter in the labour court.

Jeffery said he doubted that the protector was the appropriate institution for labour issues.

Madonsela disagreed, and said she believed no ombud anywhere else in the world would be asked to explain such issues.

Msibi said the content of the parliamentary oversight meeting had been referred to a roundtable discussion in Parliament, and in preparation for that, the Protector and her team would have an opportunity to deliberate on the matter.

“The Public Protector does not see any value to discuss this issue in the public platform, when there have been no internal discussions,” she said.

According to the Mail&Guardian, Malunga said he believed “there is a certain decorum with regards to how we handle the “institution we report to”.

“The spirit of my correspondence, is that we must respect Parliament, of course, not suck up to it,” he said.

“I have a view based on the law – section 181 (5) of the Constitution. We have to account to Parliament. We can’t be a law unto ourselves,” he was quoted as saying.

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