Madonsela address Nkandla report criticisms

BY CHARL BOSCH - AUGUST 3, 2015

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has lashed out at President Jacob Zuma for what she described as “eroding the workings of my office” by not adhering to the findings of her Secure in Comfort report.

Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria earlier today, Madonsela, who was last week accused by certain African National Congress (ANC) MP’s of lying about the true determination of costs relating to the security upgrades at Zuma’s private Nkandla home, said action needs to have taken and the process stopped.

“The key findings on the president's conduct... relate to what I made to the president having been alerted to irregularities as early as 2009,” Madonsela said.

“My answer whether or not the president should have done something to stop or inquire... is yes, the president should have done something. Public servants return money to government regularly when overpaid by the state”.

She denied allegations that her office had made Zuma its sole target, but stated she felt hurt from not explaining her side to Parliament’s ad-hoc committee, after the ruling party used its majority to block the request made by opposition parties.

“I am deeply saddened that I have to use the media as a platform to address you. I expected Parliament to allow me to be interviewed because that is what I believe is the expectation from the Constitution when public functionaries are involved in decision-making.

“I chose this platform to advise you on Constitutional requirements of the Public Protector... and respond to utterances my office views as misinformation about my report,” she said, adding that the report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, which cleared Zuma of paying a portion of the R246-million, cannot be viewed as a substitute to her findings.

“There is no legal basis to review my report or set up parallel investigations. My report never advised the President to engage [with the] Police Minister,” she said.

Referring to the various upgrades, most notably the controversial fire pool, Madonsela said, “We didn’t impose ourselves as investigators as experts on what is a security item and what is not.

“It is clearly a swimming pool with fire-fighting functionalities. We never said swimming pool can't fight fire. It's water. Even a child knows that”.

Addressing National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete who had overseeing proceedings, Madonsela stated that her office had been subjected to severe backlash since the being ask to investigate, and that the constant bickering “which has included support of this office's request for more funding” is undermining its credibility.

“This office and other integrity institutions have an enormous roll to play. I appeal we stop personalising matters. My office is available to assist the National Assembly by presenting an overview of the report or answering any questions about upgrades to the president's home. This is important for government to play a central role in driving delivery,” she said.

 

Additional reporting by News24