ANC slams Madonsela over Absa apartheid bailout report

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela. (Pic: Wil Punt, Peartree Photography)
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela. (Pic: Wil Punt, Peartree Photography)

Johannesburg - The ANC wants the Public Protector report linking Absa to billions of rands in bailout funds from the apartheid government made public.

The party also criticised former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for not releasing the report during her tenure, saying this strengthened the perception that she prioritised cases against the governing party over others.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe compared Madonsela's handling of the apartheid bailout report to that of her State of Capture report and concluded that she handled the latter "totally clumsily" while she failed to publish the former.

"I listened to the past Public Protector [who was] at pains to explain how she wrote that report and so forth."

"The report was written and never published, that is the issue. This report was written [and] kept under the lid, but the State of Capture report was written in a rush and released," Mantashe said.

On Monday Madonsela declined to say if her successor Busisiwe Mkhwebane had altered the contents of the provisional report leaked to the Mail & Guardian.

Report based on 1997 probe

"I choose not to comment on whether that report is the same as the one I left or whether or not both the conclusions about who did anything wrong and the remedial action are mine or not," Madonsela was quoted as saying.

The investigation was conducted during her tenure but she told the Cape Town Press Club that although it was concluded she had not signed off on it. Explaining why it took so long, she denied any ulterior motives. She said she did most of the work by herself because her staff were against it and already over worked.

The leaked provisional report's remedial action includes that Absa should pay back R2.25bn to the fiscus.

The report was based on an investigation by UK company CIEX in 1997 which probed claims that the Bankorp group of banks, bought by Absa in 1992, had been offered R1.5bn under the guise of a bailout before the dawn of democracy.

ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte backed Mantashe's concerns but said the party did not want to make a pronouncement.

Duarte said they hoped Mkhwebane's investigation would be thorough.

'Let's see it'

"We are hoping the current Public Protector will give it more airtime and indeed look at it properly and correctly," Duarte said.

Mantashe said the party wants the report released.

"Let's see it. Let's allow it to be in public and debate," he said.

President Jacob Zuma has asked for a review of the State of Capture report that recommended a judicial inquiry. It investigated the allegations of undue influence by Zuma's friends, the Gupta family, on state-owned entities and the appointments of ministers.

The ANC, which is expected to hold its policy conference in June, was speaking at an ANC engagement with to editors on Tuesday on a wide range of issues.

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