Thuli is too broke to fight

2014-05-17 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Public Protector (PP) does not have the money to fight the government’s application for a review of her Nkandla report.

The protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said yesterday the office does not have a separate budget for legal costs.

“An amount of less than R1 million is available among our budgets for investigations, but it would not be enough to cover legal action of that nature,” he said.

Ministers in the security cluster announced on Thursday that they are to approach the high court for a review of protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the improvements done to President Jacob Zuma’s house at Nkandla.

Segalwe said while it is impossible to predict what the costs could amount to, the PP anticipates they could run into millions of rands.

“The legal costs for the urgent interdict that the state sought and then withdrew amounted to R600 000. Although the state paid the costs, as ordered by the court, the PP office was still liable for part of that.”

The PP reckons that the review process, which could be sent up to the Supreme Court of Appeal and even the Constitutional Court, would entail high legal costs.

Madonsela last year told Parliament of her misgivings about the size of her budget — just R199 million a year to carry out an ever-increasing list of investigations.

In 2010/11, the office carried out 19 603 probes, which rose to 33 533 in 2012/13.

She said last year her biggest challenges were the lack of resources allocated to her and the government’s increasing use of legal advisers to handle queries from her office.

Segalwe said the PP would have to move money out of its operating budget to pay the legal costs.

“It will again impact negatively on our work. It must also be remembered that the PP and the investigative teams involved in the Nkandla case will also be involved in any review process.

“That means they won’t be available to investigate other cases.”

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