Zuma to wait for protector before deciding on minister

2011-09-14 13:04

President Jacob Zuma could not decide Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka’s future before the Public Protector pronounced on his alleged abuse of state funds, the presidency said today.

“We need that to be completed, otherwise the situation is untenable,” presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

Maharaj said Zuma wrote to Shiceka some time ago about reports of “a misuse of funds”.

“While he was investigating, we heard that the Public Protector is looking into the matter,” he said.
Maharaj said the presidency did not want a situation where “the president makes a finding and the Public Protector comes out and says something else.

“The Public Protector is a Chapter 9 (institution) with the authority to conduct certain investigations,” he added.

Maharaj said there had been no indication from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on when her office would conclude its findings in the Shiceka investigation.

“We have had no word on when her report will be ready. So until then our president’s hands are a little bit tied.”

Zuma yesterday told the National Assembly he had asked questions and received answers from the minister.

He was responding to a question from Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota on whether Shiceka had been asked to refund money he allegedly spent irregularly on a trip to Switzerland.

Zuma told members of Parliament that Shiceka had permission from then president Kgalema Motlanthe to visit Switzerland on Fifa Soccer World Cup business.

“I requested a report from the minister subsequent to media reports alleging that business other than what former president Motlanthe had been informed about transpired. The minister complied.”

ANC member of Parliament Ben Turok in April asked Madonsela’s office to probe press reports that Shiceka spent R355 000 to visit a girlfriend in a Swiss jail, R640 000 to stay in a luxury hotel in Cape Town and more than R160 000 on plane tickets for his family.

Shiceka had been on sick leave since February, but had at least twice signalled he was keen to return to work.

Today, he told Talk Radio 702 in an interview he was feeling recovered and had been playing tennis.
His spokesperson Botshelo Rakate said: “Compared to when he took leave, he is feeling much better and able to come back to work.”

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