Lawyers advising govt should help build SA - protector

2014-10-01 22:20
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - Lawyers advising government on matters relating to the work of the public protector should do their jobs in a manner that builds the country, Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

"It is often said as lawyers we serve whoever pays us," she said in a statement.

"Currently lawyers are giving all sorts of advices to government. Some are openly saying to government 'do nothing'."

Mathonsela was reportedly addressing the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a breakfast meeting.

She said that when other independent Chapter 9 institutions established under the South African Constitution, such as the auditor general, presented a report to Parliament, "the latter did not second-guess the former".

Instead, Parliament looked into who was supposed to have done what and why they were not doing it, she said.

On Tuesday, she told reporters in Pretoria that the outcome of recommendations made by her office on the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home were in the hands of Parliament, South Africa and the judiciary.

Opposition parties on Friday last week withdrew from the parliamentary committee dealing with the Nkandla issue, saying they would not legitimise a process they claimed was designed to shield Zuma from liability for alleged abuse of state funds.

They walked out after the ruling party refused to agree to call Zuma to answer questions and to enforce Madonsela's directive that he repay a portion of R246m spent on refurbishing his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘Public protector’s remedies not binding’

ANC MP Mathole Motshekga told the committee on Thursday last week that the majority of legal minds agreed with the president's view that remedies put forward by the public protector were not binding.

"Our view is that remedial action is not binding, it has the status of recommendations," he said, adding that the country's courts had not pronounced definitively on the matter.

Madonsela said on Wednesday national legislation such as the Public Protector Act gave her office additional powers and functions.

"People are being mischievous because the Act talks about 'recommendations' as one of the options available for the public protector to rectify maladministration."

The Act gave her office powers to "resolve" disputes and "rectify" maladministration and abuse of power through mediation, negotiation, conciliation and any other means.

Her office was the only institution empowered by the Executive Members' Ethics Act to investigate violations of the Executive Ethics Code, which meant that, legally, no other institution could contradict her office in that regard.

"The Act is very clear that we must investigate and report to the President who must then apply his mind and then send the report and his response indicating any comments he has and the action he has taken or is to take to Parliament."

Read more on:    thuli madonsela  |  johannesburg  |  parliament 2014  |  nkandla upgrade

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