Public Protector reacts to criticism relating to the Protection of State Information Bill

Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela has noted with concern what appears to be the politicisation of her office’s role in the parliamentary process relating to the Protection of State Information Bill.

In an effort to insulate her office from what appears to be an unnecessary political storm, the Public Protector has decided to delink her engagement with Parliament from the efforts of civil society, including representatives of the media.

She said this would also be for purposes of ensuring that her office continues to be allowed to operate independently and impartially, without any interference from other organs of state and private parties.

“I have decided to advise the civil society entities that approached me for assistance to directly engage with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) independent of me. I will accordingly write to them and articulate my position,” she said.

The Public Protector said she will still make a submission to the NCOP but it would only be made on behalf of her office. The submission will primarily focus on the potential impact of the Bill on the functionality of her office, particularly its mandate of investigating maladministration and other forms of improper conduct in state affairs and on the country’s pursuit of good governance.

After assessing the request to investigate alleged improper pronouncements by the Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, regarding a public interest defence clause, the Public Protector has exercised her discretional power in terms of Section 6(3)(b) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 and decided not to proceed with the investigation.

She has advised the complainant to approach the Minister directly and/or explore parliamentary channels to resolve the matter.

The Public Protector has further drawn the attention of parties to Section 181(2-4) of the Constitution, which states that:

“(2) These institutions (Chapter Nine) are independent, and are subject only to the Constitution and the law, and they must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice.

“(3) Other organs of state, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect these institutions to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of these institutions.

“(4) No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of these institutions.”

Parties are therefore requested to take note of subsection 4.

Issued by the Public Protector South Africa. For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communication
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: 012 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Monday, December 19, 2011