Public Protector concerned over extraordinary, unwarranted attacks
The Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, has noted with deep concern the extraordinary and unwarranted attacks on her person and office by the ANC, the office of its Chief Whip in Parliament, one of its alliance partners and the leader of its women’s league following the unfortunate leak and publishing of her confidential letter to President Jacob Zuma.
Her reading of the public statements and comments attributed to these parties is that there is an attempt to interfere with the functioning of her office in violation of 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.
The Public Protector also wishes to indicate that she deals with all complaints consistently, including following up on the implementation of the remedial action outlined in all her investigation reports.
In the matter regarding the Public Protector’s report titled Secure in Comfort, the Public Protector has consistently indicated that the President has not submitted comments in or communicated his intended action in pursuit of remedial action, to Parliament.
She has consistently from the date the document surfaced indicated that the document held out in the media as the President’s response to her report is in fact not a response to her report.
Nowhere in the purported response of the President to the Public Protector’s report does the document state that it represents his comment on the report. In fact, in paragraph 7, the document in question specifically states that it is “not a critique” of the Public Protector’s report and that it “offers no comment” on the contents of the Public Protector’s report and that this was not reflective of the fact that the president was accepting the contents.
The Public Protector has also been consistent in indicating from Friday 15, August 2014 that she would write to the President to establish if the document that was purported to be his response to her report was indeed from his office and that if that was the case, indicate that the document did not constitute a response envisaged by Section 3(5) of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act (EMEA).
The Public Protector has also been consistent in indicating that should the President have submitted a response or comments on her report as required by the said provisions of the EMEA, she would leave the evaluation of the adequacy of the response to Parliament.
The Public Protector is of the view that, in line with the constitutional imperative to “take appropriate remedial action” her role on the matter ends once the President has complied with the duty to submit to Parliament her report with his comments and intentions on action in pursuit of remedial action.
It is the Public Protector’s belief that her exhaustion of the process to its ultimate conclusion as required by law supports parliamentary democracy. It is therefore unclear in what way her letter to the President has undermined Parliament or what exactly the letter has taken away from Parliament. The Public Protector considers her action to be enriching the parliamentary process by ensuring that Parliament has a response to evaluate.
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 his comments to her. She specifically asks the President to comply with the law and report to Parliament.
Although the letter in question was confidential, it has since been leaked to the media and the Public Protector has since decided to share it so that members of the public can see for themselves what she said.
The Public Protector further disputes, as baseless, allegations that she conducts her work through the media. She has been advised confidentially that it is a senior politician and member of the ruling party that leaked the confidential letter to the media, conduct she considers improper.
The Public Protector reiterates her appeal to the media to refrain from peddling confidential documents released dishonestly as this tends to shift the focus from real issues. She further asks all to let her and her office do their work without political interference.
For more information, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7006
079 507 0399