I've never been confused about protector's powers - Madonsela

Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela took to Twitter to defend herself after Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffrey, during the debate on a motion to remove President Jacob Zuma from office, said that even she had doubts regarding her powers.

"I've never been confused about powers of @PublicProtector. To suggest otherwise & selectively quote from a repudiated document is dishonest," she wrote on the social networking site during the debate.

Speaking on behalf of the ANC during the debate, Jeffrey, who is also an attorney, quoted previous judgments which he said showed that there was doubt that the public protector's powers were crystal clear.

He said a previous public protector, Selby Baqwa, had been quoted as saying that although his findings were not binding, the government had abided by 90% of the protector's report anyway.

Even Madonsela herself was unsure, Jeffery claimed.

Madonsela's response in another tweet suggested that Jeffrey had been somewhat economical with the truth.

Last week Thursday, the Consitutional Court ruled that the public protector's remedial action was binding.

It ruled that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with Madonsela's remedial action regarding payment for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

It ruled that the National Assembly also failed to uphold the Constitution when it set aside Madonsela's report.

In 2014, Jeffrey reportedly said the decisions taken by public protector were not legally binding.

"It all boils down to the question of whether or not the public protector's decisions are legally binding or enforceable? We, in government, argue that they cannot be," he said at the time.

"The public protector is not a court of law."

A motion to remove the president was tabled by the DA and supported by majority of opposition parties on Tuesday. However, the motion failed with 233 MPs voting against it and 143 in favour. There were no abstentions.

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