Public protector Thuli Madonsela had barely released the media from her briefing on Wednesday when the ANC fired a responding salvo. This time it seemingly softened its tone. While it no longer accuses Madonsela of political motives, it maintained that the leaking of the draft provisional report into Nkandla could only have come from Madonsela's office.
The Mail & Guardian revealed snippets of the report last Friday, which provisionally recommends that Zuma must reimburse the state for money spent on his personal home at Nkandla, and provisionally finds that he misled Parliament.
On Wednesday, Madonsela rejected the ANC's allegation, that she was responsible for the leak. She said the ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had essentially lied on four occasions during its Tuesday press conference, including when he accused her of being responsible for the leaks and when he said Madonsela was "sitting with the [final Nkandla] report".
She said she would meet with the ANC to iron out some of these issues. In its later statement on Wednesday, the ANC welcomed this. But party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu did not address Madonsela' s rejection of many of Mantashe’s earlier statements, with the exception of the allegation by the ANC that the leaks came from Madonsela.
Mthembu also concluded that Madonsela and the ANC agreed on many of the issues around the report.
"We also welcome that the public protector agrees that as the ANC we had every right to be gravely concernedwith the leaks regarding her investigation into the security upgrade at Nkandla and other investigations undertaken by her office before they are finalised.
"We have stated in our statement that these leaks, that have become a regular feature in recent times, have the effect of not only undermining and prejudicing the integrity and the work of the public protector's office, but also harming the image and the standing of those who are being investigated."
Mthembu said the ANC wanted to "remind" Madonsela that other provisional reports had been leaked to the media.
"Our view and our take is that the final responsibility rests with her office on any leakage of incomplete investigations by her office. It would have been helpful if her office had taken action and exposed whoever leaked the reports, whether they be in her office or outside of her office.
"Her statement that she does not have the capacity to take those involved in the leakage to court, including the media, is perhaps an issue that all of us should be concerned about," said Mthembu.
On Tuesday, Mantashe also urged Madonsela to release the final Nkandla report "as a matter of extreme urgency". But on Wednesday, after Madonsela said the final report did not yet exist, and that she would stick to her original timeline around the eventual release of it, the ANC appeared to back down.
"We still restate our position that we demand that the report be released in its entirety once it is finalised, as this will restore the credibility of the process and the final outcome. We are happy that there is no disagreement between ourselves and the public protector on the release of the report as soon as it is finalised," Mthembu said.
Madonsela said the report should be ready in the second week of January, if all goes according to plan.