Madonsela 'empowered to probe the state'

2014-09-11 13:20
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Cape Town - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Thursday gave a reminder that she was empowered to investigate the State, amid recent attacks on her character and actions.

She said she felt it important to re-visit what the Constitution stated on her place, powers and responsibilities, especially in light of "personal insults from some quarters and increased legal resistance, litigation and others".

Addressing a stakeholder consultative dialogue at the City of Cape Town's chambers, she read out the provisions which stated that the Public Protector was an independent body that should be impartial, exercise powers without fear, favour or prejudice, and take remedial action.

"Throughout my years as a lawyer, I have never come across simple words that have sparked this much confusion and controversy," she said.

"What I find fascinating is the number of pseudo-experts that are dishing out advice on TV and radio every day without ever mentioning or attempting to interpret the wording in the constitution."

She said she was saddened that one of these pseudo-experts came from the very university that taught her the discipline of rigorous research.

‘Last word’

On Wednesday, she was forwarded another critical academic article titled "A protector with limited powers", by Associate Professor Mtende Mhango, the Deputy Dean of the School of Law at the University of Witwatersrand.

It was remarkable to her that the article did not once cite any constitutional provisions it presumably sought to interpret, nor any statutory provisions.

"When I Googled the author, I found that he is actually an expert on pensions law. In medicine, you would not bring a gynaecologist to come and contest the views of an ophthalmologist on issues involving eye care," she said.

"It used to be the same in academia and legal practice."

It also perplexed her that people's interpretations were that she could make recommendations only to organs of the State.

She said she was not an ombudsman without the power to take remedial action, as had been boldly advanced by a member of the executive.

The "last word" belonged to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which stated in a recent ruling that she was more than an ombudsman.

She said her reports may not be amended or reviewed by Parliament and that only a court of law could find that her process or reasons were flawed and send a report back to her to do this correctly.

Madonsela's theme for dialogues with state officials and other parties across the provinces this year was: "Joining hands in a partnership against maladministration and corruption".

The Star reported on Monday that Defence Deputy Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also chairperson of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association (MKMVA), had accused Madonsela of being a spy, insinuating she worked for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Madonsela's office on Monday gave Maphatsoe three days to back his allegations, or issue an apology and retraction. Maphatsoe apologised on Tuesday.

"On Saturday and Monday, I made statements in my capacity as the national chairperson on behalf of MKMVA about the Public Protector," Maphatsoe said in a statement.

"After consultation with my organisation, the African National Congress, it would seem as though my statements have been misunderstood and misinterpreted.

"I therefore withdraw those statements and apologise for any offences and hurt that would have been caused."

Read more on:    cia  |  umkhonto we sizwe  |  anc  |  thuli ­madonsela  |  kebby maphatsoe  |  cape town  |  nkandla upgrade

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