Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says her letter to President Jacob Zuma, asking why he should not pay the debt he incurred on the Nkandla renovations, has not undermined Parliament. Madonsela has come under attack for her letter from the ANC, its Parliamentary chief whip and the SA Communist Party for allegedly disrespecting the work of other institutions of democracy by penning the letter. The office of the ANC chief whip, Stone Sizani, accused her of jumping onto “political bandwagons” and linked her letter to the EFF’s disruption of Parliament over the Nkandla refund last Thursday.
Madonsela’s office, however, says its sees the “extraordinary and unwarranted attacks on her person and her office” as a bid to “interfere with the functioning of her office”. It said this flouted section 181 (4) of the Constitution, “which states that no person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of institutions supporting democracy”.
“The Public Protector calls on the parties to respect the Constitution and allow her to execute her duties without fear or favour. She wishes to remind the parties that she exercises her powers in terms of the Constitution, which powers are to investigate, report and take appropriate remedial action,” says her spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi.
Madonsela’s report, which was released in March, recommended that Zuma should pay a “reasonable portion” of the non-security costs of the R250 million the state spent on Nkandla upgrades.
The SACP yesterday accused Madonsela of doing business through the media and of portraying the ANC in government as “corrupt”. It also said she had changed her tack on Zuma’s report to Parliament from the initial position she took when the president released his response.
However, Madonsela’s office has denied this. It says it has always maintained that Zuma’s response was not in line with the Executive Members’ Ethics Act. Masibi says it was unclear how Madonsela’s letter had undermined Parliament.
“Nowhere in the letter does she tell Parliament what to do. She considers as interference the extraordinary attempts by parties to instruct her office on how to perform its functions.
“In addition, nowhere in the Public Protector’s letter to the President does she ask the President to submit comments to her. She specifically asks the President to comply with the law and report to Parliament,” says Masibi.