The ANC has dared public protector Thuli Madonsela to name the alleged senior ANC member she claims is behind the leaking of a confidential letter she wrote to President Jacob Zuma.
The war of words between the ruling party and Madonsela continued on Monday night as an angry ANC national spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, criticised Madonsela of coming up with a “preposterous” allegation that there was an ANC leader who leaked the letter to the weekend media.
Despite his anger and the attacks, Kodwa maintained that the ANC “will do everything to support that [public protector’s] office”.
“But, when they do wrong, we will raise issues. We are questioning her conduct, not her work,” he said.
Kodwa was responding to a statement released by Madonsela where she urged the ANC to stop interfering in her work and allow her to execute her duties without fear or favour.
He accused Madonsela of playing victim and playing to the gallery.
“When she is questioned, she says she is being attacked or that the Constitution is under attack.”
“But we are saying she must take responsibility for the leaking of the report. She has never taken responsibility of the leaks in her office,” said Kodwa.
“She comes with a preposterous allegation that there is an ANC leader who leaked the letter. She must give us the name of this person who sits with her when she writes letters to the president.”
‘Running a public trial’
Kodwa said the ANC believes that Madonsela leaked the document herself because “she is running a public trial”.
In her statement, Madonsela said that she had been advised confidentially that it was a senior politician and member of the ruling party that leaked the confidential letter to the media.
Madonsela’s explosive seven-page letter made headlines on Sunday. In it, she expressed concern that Zuma was second-guessing the recommendations she made in her Nkandla report, which was released in March this year. She also pointed out that Zuma had not adequately responded to her report, nor had he stated what remedial action would be taken, as is required by law.
In his reply to her report, Zuma indicated that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko needed to determine if he should pay back any of the R246-million spent on security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.
But in her letter, Madonsela says she gave Zuma two weeks to explain why he shouldn’t pay back some of the money spent on upgrades to his private home, and warned: “I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law, which is to review my decision taken in pursuit of the powers of administrative scrutiny I am given … by the Constitution.”
“As I have already indicated, reports of the public protector are by law not subject to any review or second-guessing by a minister and/or the Cabinet.”
She said if Zuma continued in the manner he was doing, this would not augur well for expectations that the rule of law is being upheld at all levels, including at his level as the pinnacle of government. “It may also encourage impunity at various levels of the state,” she wrote.
‘Extraordinary and unwarranted attacks’
The ANC and its alliance partners reacted angrily to Madonsela and a barrage of criticism followed. The party accused her of undermining the role of the public protector’s office and of not being neutral on the Nkandla matter.
In a response statement, Madonsela’s office raised concern over the “extraordinary and unwarranted attacks on her person and office” by the ANC, its chief whip in Parliament, the South African Communist Party and the leader of its women’s league, Angie Motshekga, following the leaking and publishing of the confidential letter.
“Her [Madonsela’s] reading of the public statements and comments attributed to these parties is that there is an attempt to interfere with the functioning of her office in violation of section 181(4) of the Constitution, which states that no person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of institutions supporting democracy,” read the statement.
Madonsela called on political parties to respect the Constitution and to allow her to execute her duties without fear or favour.
She reminded parties that she exercises her powers in terms of the Constitution, which gives her powers to investigate, report and take appropriate remedial action.
Madonsela also dismissed the ANC’s accusations that in writing the letter, she was trying to undermine the parliamentary process and its authority to process the manner and its attendant competencies.
The ANC had claimed that it appeared as if while Madonsela had submitted her report to Parliament, she had no confidence in the institution and its independence as an arm of state. “With reluctance, we suspect that the public protector has dealt with the investigation as a personal matter outside of the Constitutional mandate of the office,” said the party.
Kodwa added on Monday evening that, instead of writing a letter to Zuma, Madonsela could have made her submissions to the parliamentary ad hoc committee as its process unfolds.
“It is the public protector’s belief that her exhaustion of the process to its ultimate conclusion as required by law supports parliamentary democracy. It is therefore unclear in what way her letter to the president has undermined Parliament or what exactly the letter has taken away from Parliament,” Madonsela’s office said in response to the accusation.
The response added that she considered her action to be enriching the parliamentary process by ensuring that Parliament has a response to evaluate.