Thuli: Stop protecting the president

2014-03-30 14:00

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President Jacob Zuma is not a “child or a victim” who needs to be protected, but a head of state who should be allowed to deal with adverse findings against him, according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

“I know everyone is trying to make sure they look like they are protecting the president. The president doesn’t need to be protected. He is the head of the executive. He is the head of ethics. I don’t think people should be protecting him as if he is a child or a victim,” she told City Press in an interview yesterday.

“That goes for all these lawyers who have suddenly crept out of the woodwork. Why protect the president? He’s not a child, he’s not a victim. He is the head of state. Why not let him deal with this thing from an ethical point of view, as is his responsibility as the head of state? Why do they feel the need to protect him as if we are dealing with a child who can’t deal with these things and therefore needs their protection?

“I would like to see less of the howling, especially the howling that doesn’t read the report and [then] shoots from the hip.

“I would like people to honestly read the report and not cherry-pick and be happy where I have said the president did not lie and then attack me. It’s one report and the reasoning is the same throughout the report.”

The ANC’s chief whip in Parliament, Stone Sizani, this week criticised Madonsela but admitted he hadn’t read her “bulky” report.

Madonsela also said the laws governing her office meant people had to make a formal request for her report to be submitted to Parliament.

“I investigated this matter under the Public Protector Act and under the Executive Members’ Ethics Act.

“In terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, section 3(1) says once I’ve given the report to the president, he then takes the report I gave to him and submits it to Parliament.

“In other words, it’s the president who must submit the report to Parliament and then indicate to Parliament what action he has taken in light of my report, or alternatively what action he is planning to take in light of that report. It is there in black and white.”

She said neither Speaker Max Sisulu nor the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mninwa Mahlangu, had requested the report formally and directly from her office, as the law allowed them to do.

Madonsela said the report was of historical significance because whatever was deemed to be permissible for the president would be assumed to be necessary for deputy presidents, ministers and premiers, MECs, and mayors.

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