Mbete 'regrets' tone of engagement with public protector

2016-04-03 19:00
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

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Cape Town – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on Sunday said she "regretted" the hostile reception Public Protector Thuli Madonsela got while presenting her budget to a parliamentary committee last year.

A journalist had asked whether Mbete regretted the "brutal nature" of the engagement between Madonsela and some ANC MPs.

"I don’t believe she ever went to any of the ad-hoc committee meetings. She was never part of that," Mbete told journalists at a briefing called to respond to the Constitutional Court's ruling on Nkandla.

"We understand what was reported to have happened in the justice portfolio committee and I can tell you I also regret some of what I read in the media happened in terms of the tone of engagement with her, but that is all I can say."

Mbete said she could not be expected to anticipate whether certain MPs were now going to say anything or change their views.

When Madonsela appeared before the Justice and Correctional Services Committee last year, some ANC MPs interrupted her while she spoke, accusing her of being friends with the DA, and criticised her presentation as meaningless and lacking in substance.

In July, justice portfolio committee chair Mathole Motshekga told the Nkandla ad hoc committee: "We should not, and cannot, apologise when we say the report of the public protector is misleading and has misled the nation."

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court ruled that both President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly were in breach of their constitutional obligations in the Nkandla matter.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ordered that the National Assembly's absolving Zuma from compliance with the public protector's remedial action was invalid and set it aside.

Mbete on Sunday would not go as far as apologising to Madonsela.

"Now I don't know who owes the public protector an apology about what because as far as Parliament is concerned, the situation has been explained," she said.

She was appreciative of the legal clarity the judgment provided.

At the same time, she said the court had found actions were inconsistent with the Constitution, not that Parliament had "violated" the Constitution.

"There is no such statement in the judgment."

"It was not maliciously done because there was hatred for the public protector. It has got nothing to do with the person."

Mbete said the fact that they were not suppressing debate on a motion calling for Zuma's impeachment, planned for Tuesday, should be welcomed.

She would not consider recusing herself from the debate.

National Council of Provinces chair Thandi Modise said she certainly would not consider resigning. Mbete too was not considering resigning.

Modise said the relevant committees had sought legal opinion on the Nkandla matter and that "there was an area that was really grey".

"Parliament needs to go back to its processes and systems. Are we capacitated enough? I believe that anytime you fall and you rise, you learn."

Read more on:    baleka mbete  |  politics  |  nkandla upgrade

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