Nkandla: ANC says Public Protector’s timing ‘unreasonable’

Relations between the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, and the ruling party the, ANC, have entered remarkable turbulence following a barrage of strong statements from Luthuli House and its representatives in government.

ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte issued a strong statement at the weekend reiterating the view that the public protector has acted “unreasonably” around the finalisation of the Nkandla report.

“It was unreasonable to expect the Cluster to respond to 357 page report dealing with an investigation has lasted almost a year and involves a wide range of legislative and security issues in the time given by the Public Protector,” said Duarte.

This comes after ministers in the security cluster of government approached the court to secure an interdict against release of the report before the cluster can respond.

The ANC said it “welcomes the decision by the Gauteng High Court to grant the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster an interdict against the release of the Public Protector’s report on security measures at the President’s home in Nkandla”.

The Cluster only approached the Gauteng High Court for an interdict after a series of unsuccessful attempts to obtain a reasonable extension to provide comments on the interim report,” said the Duarte statement.

The statement reiterated ANC’s support of the Public Protectors office. “Twenty years ago the African National Congress said in our manifesto for the 1994 elections:
Government administration exists to serve the people. It must be answerable to them. The ANC will encourage private citizens to use the independent Public Protector to investigate corruption, dishonesty or violation of rules of conduct on the part of government officials – those found guilty will be dealt with.”

Added that statement: “The ANC has remained true to this commitment. The Office of the Public Protector has enjoyed unwavering and principled support from every ANC led administration since 1994. When Adv Selby Baqwa, SC, was appointed as the first Public Protector in 1995, the office had a budget of R1 630 000 and dealt with a total of 1989 new cases for the period October 1995 to September 1996.”

By 2012/13 the third Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela, was investigating 33 533 complaints per year, assisted by a respectable staff complement, 160 of whom are based at a national office and 238 at nine provincial and satellite offices throughout the country. The budget of the Public Protector stood at R183.1 million (plus R15m for additional capacity). For 2013/14 an amount of R199 million has been budgeted.”

During the current administration led by President Zuma, not only has the budget of the Public Protector increased dramatically, President Zuma has acted in a consistent and principled manner upon the findings and recommendations contained in every report of the Public Protector even where it involved those who held the highest offices in government and the public service.”

We reiterate the concerns raised by the Secretary General of the ANC that the Public Protector excluded the President when she gave a copy of the interim report to the Ministers in the Security Cluster as well as her remarks that the public will be disappointed about the findings even before she released the report. These actions risk undermining the legitimacy and credibility of an important institution supporting the constitutional democracy for which so many sacrificed so much for.”

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