Protector declines info bill probe

2011-12-20 08:20

Cape Town - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Monday rejected a request from the media to investigate the state's arguments on the protection of state information bill.

Madonsela's office said she was deliberately distancing herself from the civil rights campaign against the contentious bill, to prevent her office from coming under political suspicion and attack.

"In an effort to insulate her office from what appears to be an unnecessary political storm, the public protector has decided to delink her engagement with Parliament from the efforts of civil society, including representatives of the media."

She said in a statement: "I have decided to advise the civil society entities that approached me for assistance to directly engage with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) independent of me. I will accordingly write to them and articulate my position.”

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) had asked Madonsela to investigate claims that no country has a public interest defence in its official secrecy legislation, and that those proposing one are foreign agents.

It wanted her to test the veracity of the first position and, if it was not the case, to establish whether it "was a bona fide mistake or it was an intention to mislead".

Sanef had also asked her to investigate whether a statement made by State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele that those who opposed the bill were proxies funded by foreign spies, was protected by parliamentary privilege and had in fact been said in Parliament.

The request came at a time when Madonsela was already under fire from ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga for writing to Speaker Max Sisulu on the bill. In her letter to Sisulu, she noted that numerous organisations had approached her to express concern about the implications of the draft law.

She also warned that if passed, the bill was likely to hinder her work, as she relied in part on information from whistleblowers and the media.

Motshekga accused her of meddling in the parliamentary process. The bill was approved by the National Assembly on November 22 and has since been referred to an ad hoc committee of the NCOP for further consideration.

Media houses, civil society organisations and ANC ally Cosatu have warned that if it were signed into law in its current form, it would be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

  • Daft - 2011-12-20 08:25

    I trust that madonsela was not paid to decline a probe....

      Con - 2011-12-20 08:51

      Your name is appropriate.

      Dirk - 2011-12-20 08:58

      No, she is merely starting to show her political affiliation.It was bound to happen, sooner or later.Or were you politically so naive to think that a committed cadre would not?

      Juno - 2011-12-20 09:37

      Oh come on!!! She has more than proven herself as being objective, impartial and definitely on the side of the public. If you bother to examine the decision more carefully and become more politically astute you will realise that she has been given no choice...

      Dirk - 2011-12-20 13:00

      Dream on! Just remember my words in 5-6 yrs time

  • Ben - 2011-12-20 08:55

    Meddling in the parliamentary process. This phrase should be clearly defined, especially the 'process' part of it. For instance any new laws should be carefully scrutinised to verify that it is made in line with the costitution. If there appears to be any discrepancy, someone should meddle. Further, the governments role is to serve the people. That is what they are being paid for. Should it become obvious that they are only serving their own interests, someone should meddle. I hope that the day will come that all of us will understand these simple basic priciples.

  • Garth - 2011-12-20 08:56

    Damn, another sell-out. Just when we thought Ms. Madonsela was that one voice in the ignorant wilderness. Sorry ma'am, there is however hope for you yet: disregard `his master's voice', find yourself ousted and join the `voice' of reason, logic, common sense and legality. Fight the good fight, onwards to true freedom of speech - but only with the public interest clause, hey cwele, you slime.

  • AyGeeWils - 2011-12-20 09:08

    A Public Protector who leaves the public to fight for their own protection! - It's a political office and will tow the party line - she protects nothing but the status quo and we are very naive to believe otherwise ...

      Jannie - 2011-12-20 09:12

      well said.

  • kabelo.leballo - 2011-12-20 09:19

    It seems like ppl forget that Thuli is an ANC member! A Cheetah wearing a sheep skin just like the rest of them!!

  • Barefoot - 2011-12-20 09:21

    i do not like the secrecy bill one bit but i will not let that cloud my judgement on why the public protector refused- looking at the explanation it makes sense, she is there to ensure the constitutional rights of the public are not violated when a matter is in parliament and has not passed the constitutional court, she would in effect be writing her own constitution what would be the work of the constitutional court then?. the best way is the matter to be taken to the constitutional court first then if deemed unconstitutional in it's current state it maybe changed. that would allow her in turn to investigate if this law is broken.

      Juno - 2011-12-20 11:42


  • Juno - 2011-12-20 09:22

    You are quite correct HOWEVER in the US whistle blowers are protected under other legislation. Under SA law whistle blowers are NOT. And how you can say that it has nothing to do with the public protectors office is an anathma. How on earth can she be expected to conduct an investigation when she may not have access to all the information she requires? This effectively makes the office a farce. Fortunately the media have the Internet at their disposal.

  • Vince.York - 2011-12-20 09:57

    CIVIL SOCIETY IS THE PUBLIC, and hot seat or not, the Public Protector is bound to PROTECT the public / civil society and not be spineless & limp-wristed when a dictatorship threatens it as an organisation or an individual person.

      AyGeeWils - 2011-12-20 11:41

      Precicely - we are the people - they are the government do we need to define that in any other terms?

  • Heinrich - 2011-12-20 10:51

    Thuli still is a pioneering hero in my eyes. What I read between the lines is...ANC threats. Tula, tula, Thuli Madonsela Now your freedom is gone It's gone forever.

      Linda - 2011-12-20 11:44

      Absolutely agree - ANC threats.

      AyGeeWils - 2011-12-20 11:44

      Who put her there? (Italianracingdriver :))do you realy believe they would appoint their own examiner - and likely downfall? She is a political ploy to make people feel better about the ANC.

      Heinrich - 2011-12-20 12:35

      AyGeeWils : The cynical side of me concurs with your observation. However, although it is proven that the ANC as an organisation is anti-South African, I refuse to believe that 100% of ANC individuals are corrupted. I have listened to Thuli. She has stuck her neck out on various occasions. She was threatened before. Perhaps she, as an individual, just didn't get enough support from us, the freedom loving South African public.

  • Shirley - 2011-12-20 10:58

    Thought she was too good to be true! Ms Madonsela now your TRUE colours are shining through!!!!!!

  • MaxOdin.SA - 2011-12-20 12:54

    While I am still scheptical about miss madonsela and here office's pollitical affiliation or rather the possible misleeding if the general public I need to point something out. The ANC has already labelled all of those against the info bill as agents furthering an agenda funded by global institutions. Making them spies for "imperialist governments". It would be a devastating blow should the public protector be accused of "treason". This will remove the already limited ability of the public protector to act on behalf of the public and take corrupt polititions and corrupt pollitical institutions to task. The allegation alone would hamstring the public protector as an investigation would be launched suspending all current investigations by the public protector. We can only hope that the constitutional court will eventually put a stop to the bill and show that the constitution and greater good are still it's priority, That's what the institution is for.

  • Prince.Paul.Hwingwiri - 2011-12-20 12:54

    We have become a nation of cowards, we can`t challenge our own governing systems, we can`t remove ANC from abusing power and all we do is leave it to The Public Protector to challenge it........what a joke How about if 2 million people take a march to Union Buildings, won`t that send a better message. Leave Thuli alone, she`s done her job so far without the public`s help or ANC help

  • Prince.Paul.Hwingwiri - 2011-12-20 12:56

    We have become a nation of cowards and leave the battlefront to one lady to protest on our many of us joined the march to Parliament? Hypocrites............why can`t 2million people march on The Union Buildings and send a more empathetic message. Leave Thuli alone, gimme a public servant who has done better under the current political climate than her?

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