Parliament has warned that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had no right to dictate to it how to conduct its business. It also said Madonsela’s decision to engage through the media was “unprecedented” and not consistent with the constitution. Parliament was reacting to a media briefing this week in which Madonsela directly addressed the Speaker Baleka Mbete regarding misunderstandings and attacks on her report on public funds spent on upgrades at Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. In a statement yesterday, Parliament said that it was “regrettable” that the subject matter of her briefing was a matter which is currently before an ad hoc committee. It said Madonsela’s concerns that Parliament had acted in contempt of her office by setting up an ad hoc committee after a matter had already been investigated by her office were “incorrect”. “The unfortunate impression created is that the National Assembly is malicious in dealing with matters that fall within its Constitutional mandate and that its sole intention is to discredit the Office of the Public Protector,” said Parliament. It also said that Madonsela’s suggestion that Parliament treated her office with less respect than other institutions supporting democracy “is not supported by any evidence”. “Parliament recommits itself to the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. It reasserts its independence as an institution that carries the mandate of the citizens of South Africa,” said the statement. “Parliament wishes to emphasise that, as an institution established by the Constitution, it has the power to regulate its own internal arrangements. It cannot be dictated to by another institution – including the Public Protector – about how to conduct its business.” At her briefing on Monday, Madonsela explained that she was “deeply saddened” to be addressing the Speaker and Parliament through the media. She had taken this route only after the ad hoc committee had ruled out inviting her to address Parliament on her Secure in Comfort report on Nkandla. She pointed out misunderstandings and misinterpretations of her report and also explained the constitutional provisions and powers of her office, which she said had faced “vitriolic attacks” from politicians. Once again, she made herself available to Parliament to answer questions on her report. On Thursday night the ad hoc committee adopted its report, which clears Zuma of any financial liability. Mandonsela’s report found that Zuma had unduly benefitted from the R246 million upgrades and should pay back a reasonable amount to be determined in conjunction with Treasury.