Public Protector habours no ill will towards predecessor
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane is disappointed at the peddling of false information that is doing the rounds in the public domain, suggesting that the decision to withhold a portion of her predecessor, Adv. Thuli Madonsela’s gratuity pay-out is informed by antagonism.
As indicated at a press conference to report on the achievements recorded during her first 100 days in office in the past week, a legal opinion has been sought from the office of the State Attorney to clarify if indeed Adv. Madonsela is liable for the costs associated with fixing the damages a state car entrusted to her sustained in a 2012 accident.
Pending the procurement of the legal advice, it was decided that due care must be taken to not inconvenience Adv. Madonsela, hence the office released to her the rest of her gratuity pay-out.
Only the amount that is in dispute has been withheld. In the event the legal opinion indicates that Adv. Madonsela cannot be held liable for the costs, which the Government Garage is charging the office for, the money will be released to her.
The Public Protector would like to stress that there are no sinister motives behind this action. This is being done purely as part of the due diligence and governance practices that must underpin any transaction that involves the use of public funds. This way, the office will be in a position to account to auditors and to Parliament when questions on the expenditure arise.
On the issue of the use of a state car beyond Adv. Madonsela’s term of office, a service that Government Garage is charging the office for, the Public Protector has noted the statements that this was authorized by the South African Police Service’s VIP Protection Unit.
She was not privy to this information as Adv. Madonsela’s correspondence to the office about these matters was addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, who has since resigned. The Public Protector will look into this.
The Public Protector further wishes to reiterate the point that she harbours no ill will towards Adv. Madonsela. She respects Adv. Madonsela and is grateful to her for the admirable contribution she made to South Africa’s democracy during her term of office. Working with the team, she plans to build on those successes to take the office to new heights. All she asks for is half a chance to prove herself.
The Public Protector does not wish to engage in a public spat and will not be commenting further on this matter. She wants to channel all her energies towards the job at hand, which is to investigate, report on and remedy any suspected or alleged improper conduct in state affairs.