ANC MPs upped the ante, attacking Public Protector Thuli Madonsela during a parliamentary debate of the justice department yesterday.They insinuated that Madonsela wasted public money on international trips and that she disrespected Parliament.It was ANC MPs on one side viciously attacking Madonsela, and the opposition on the other in her defence.The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was the first to make reference to Madonsela when he said the only way to strengthen the Constitution and the rule of law was to properly fund offices such as that of the Public Protector.Ndlozi said the department was misdiagnosing the problems of the justice system.“The best thing you can do is to fund projects like Thuli Madonsela; to accept the independence of that institution and look out for its interests because it is about the promotion of the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said.“If you undermine it, if you go to the committee and harass it, you are not promoting it; you can’t come here and tell us about transformation in terms of indigenous system of rule of law…”Inkatha Freedom Party MP Themba Msimang said that, to many citizens of this country, the current Public Protector was the first to actually give meaning to the concept [of a Public Protector].“One would expect that she would be given an enabling budget and all the necessary support by the department.”The African Christian Democratic Party’s Steve Swart reflected on Madonsela’s last appearance before the committee.“She was not treated like other institutions. Other institutions were not asked to report on outstanding reports and we feel on our side that there was a clear attack on her.“The members of the ANC tried to send her home like a naughty school child. It was very concerning ... the manner in which she was treated,” he said, adding that rudeness can never be passed for robust engagement.Madonsela had requested an extra R200 million for her office, whose current allocation is R240 million.Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery was the first ANC member to have a go at the Madonsela. The two have previously clashed on a number of occasions when Jeffery was an ordinary MP who served in the justice portfolio committee.“The Public Protector has continuously asked for more money and has been given more money. The question is: Is that being put to good use?”At this point, heckling DA MPs shouted: “Definitely!”“If you say definitely, are you happy with all the international trips that the public protector undertakes? Or did you at least ask her about that money when she came to the committee?” asked Jeffery.“If you say it is well spent, presumably you know the answer to the question around the different approaches by the Public Protector between the SABC case and the home affairs case.“In the home affairs case, in her affidavit she said she shouldn’t be taken on review by the department of home affairs because her findings had no force on effect. She had a different position on the SABC’s case.“Have you asked her as the committee which one is right, why she had these two diametrically opposed positions?”The Congress of the People’s Mosiuoa Lekota and the DA’s John Steenhuisen objected to what they said was unparliamentary, casting aspersions on an official whose appointment or dismissal depended on Parliament.“If the Public Protector cannot account to this house, who is she accountable to?” concluded Jeffery.Another ANC MP, Bongani Bongo, defended the ANC’s approach towards Madonsela, saying they were merely asking relevant questions around issues that had been flagged by the Auditor-General. He blamed the opposition parties for “jumping up and making lots of noise” when the ANC asked these probing questions.ANC veteran Loyiso Mpumlwana put the boot in.He said they were worried about the general attitude of the “honourable lady” in reference to Madonsela.“She seems to be a law unto herself. The law that governs her operations specifically states that she is answerable to Parliament and yet she shows very little or no respect for Parliament and its committee responsible for her office,” he added.Even ANC MPs appeared shocked by this assertion.“For example, Parliament made a resolution governing the Nkandla report but she does not respect that resolution,” he continued.“The portfolio committee asked her questions last year and requested her to respond to them within two weeks; she only sent them last week, a year later. The worst thing is that she was economical with the truth to the committee. She said that she sent them long ago.“I think she needs help; the people who are rallying around her must really assist.”At this point, a number of opposition MPs were on their feet, objecting to Mpumlwana’s line of debate.