‘Pressure on Thuli a worry’

2014-02-07 00:00

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko yesterday said she was worried about the pressure being exerted on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in connection with her investigation into security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s homestead.

“She began to come under fire from the ANC, who allegedly tried to intimidate her into stopping the investigation,” Mazibuko said at a press conference in Durban.

She also said allegations that cabinet ministers had visited Madonsela and asked her to suspend the investigation so as to allow the Auditor-General and Public Works task team to conduct a probe constituted a violation of separation of powers.

“The Public Protector does not report to government. She reports to Parliament … ­She is accountable to the constitution and the law, and to nobody else.”

Mazibuko insisted that cabinet ministers could not convince the Public Protector to abandon an investigation through intimidation, political or otherwise.

“I’m concerned about that and will keep an eye on it because South Africans of all political persuasions want to have an independent institution like the Public Protector to keep the government from misusing public funds.”

Mazibuko was hopeful that Madonsela would release her report soon.

“I do hope she will release her report so that soon these pressures can stop and we can finally engage with the contents of the report,” she said.

At the briefing, Mazibuko announced that the DA yesterday filed an answering affidavit in the on-going court case with Public Works Department.

The party is requesting disclosure of the report compiled by the department’s task team that looked into the security installation at Zuma’s homestead.

This is a sequel to a court application in the Cape high court where Mazibuko’s application to gain access to the report through the Promotion of Access to Information Act was turned down.

The matter is set to be heard on February 18.

Mazibuko said the departmental task team’s report released in January was the same as that made public in December. At yesterday’s briefing, she listed inconsistencies in the two reports.

She said the security upgrades at Zuma’s homestead remained one of the greatest scandals in democratic South Africa.

“The spending of over R200 million of public money on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence is corruption of such significance to warrant the most punitive action against the president,” she said.

Mzibuko expressed her dismay that the ANC appeared to want the Madonsela report to be made public while some of its leaders delayed it behind the doors.

She was referring to statements made by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe who called for the report’s release and former commissioner Bheki Cele, wanting some documents before he could respond to findings made about him.

“If this is indeed going to be the strategy of the ANC, then South Africans deserve to know that this is a legitimate and complete report. Every reference to the content and its very constitution suggest otherwise,” she said.

Mazibuko said should Madonsela’s report suggest Zuma knew and authorised the upgrades, he would have misled Parliament. “[This] is grounds for impeachment,” she said.

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