The public protector Thuli Madonsela’s now widely-reported on letter to President Jacob Zuma has created a riveting debate in South African politics.
The seven page letter, which was sanctioned to President Zuma on Thursday 21 August 2014 – the same day the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) created the “pay back the money” stunt in parliament – has shaken the very foundations of politics around the country and brought the role of constitutionally mandated bodies such the public protector’s office into sharp focus.
Many officials within the ruling party, including ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, have accused Madonsela of interrupting with Parliamentary processes. Madonsela wrote the letter to put pressure on the country’s No 1 citizen to respond to the report she released in March this year titled “Secure in Comfort” about the security upgrades undertaken at his private Nkandla homestead in Northern KZN.
Despite all the ensuing political differences and squabbles, there are a few things that are very important and worth highlighting in Madonsela’s letter to president. That’s why LiveVIPZA brings you four of the most important things that the public protector covers in her letter to the president.
The factors that one should defnitely consider in this case are:
1. Zuma failed to respond to Madonsela’s report “Secure in Comfort”
“your conduct in relation to the implementation of the impugned upgrades at your private residence may have been unethical and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code”
One of the obligations of the Public Protector as enforced by the constitution is to investigate any conduct within state affairs that is viewed as improper, and also likely to result in undue prejudice. Thereafter the public protector is obliged by law to report on that conduct respectively. After a report is filed, the protector is further more expected to recommend remedial action to that investigations’ effect.
2. “I am writing you to request clarity on your comments on the report I prepared , filed “Secure in Comfort; a copy of which was presented to you on 19 March 2014”
So by writing the letter, Madonsela was responding to the pressure applied by opposition parties regarding the Nkandla saga. She was also fulfilling her duties as the public protector in the interests of the general public. In the letter Madonsela also clearly puts out the fact that she is currently preparing a special report to present to the National Assembly regarding progress achieved by organs of state with regards to the matter.
Many pundits believe the criticism of Madonsela by the ANC executives was rather uncalled for, as part of her job requires her to do all in her power to make sure that reports on the state are followed up on. The ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe has accused Madonsela of undermining other state powers and also abusing her power as the public protector.
The ANC has accused Madonsela of intervening with parliamentary processes, since they claim that the delay in the president’s response to her report on Nkandla is a matter to be seen to by parliament.
3. Nkosinathi Nhleko to determine amount to be paid by Zuma, if anything.
“In terms of your report Mr President, the Minister of Police now has to conduct another investigation into your liability for some of the costs incurred by the state at your private residence and it will then be before the cabinet to deal with the matter”
Madonsela has strictly criticised the involvement of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in the matter. This came after Zuma indicated in his response to Madonsela’s report that Nhleko is to determine whether he has to repay any amount of the R246-million used in the upgrade of Zuma’s Nkandla residence.
The public protector has accused the president of giving the Police commisioner powers he doesn’t deserve according to law. Nhleko has for his part told reporters that he would not in any way get involved with the Nkandla matter until parliamentary processes on the issue have been completed.
4. President should repay cost accumulated in upgrades which do not relate to security.
“Take steps, with the assistance of the National Treasury and the SAPS, to determine the reasonable cost of the measures implemented by the DPW at his private residence that do not relate to security, and which include the visitor’s Centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, chicken run and the swimming pool.”
The EFF caused a stir in Parliament on Thursday last week when they refused to leave the house as ordered by speaker Baleka Mbete. The now famous #pay back the money chant by EFF members was a statement set to put pressure on the president. Who has more than anything delayed to respond to Madonsela’s report on his Nkandla residence.
President Zuma has been given until the 4th of September 2014 to respond to Madonsela’s letter.
After undergoing a barrage of attacks from ANC leaders such as Gwede Mantashe, the public protector on Thursday came out in defence of her office and claimed that her letter to the president was confidential and had been to leaked to the media by a senior politician from the ANC. She refuses to disclose who the politician is, nor who her source of this information is.