Former public protector Thuli Madonsela on Thursday denied that her office operated on money from foreign donors and that it had used consultants.
“It’s a lie that we used consultants. It’s a blatant lie that we used USAID money, ever,” Madonsela told Johannesburg-based radio station Power FM.
Madonsela’s successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, told Parliament’s justice committee on Wednesday that she would stop foreign donor funding and the use of consultants. Briefing MPs on her 2015/16 annual report, she said USAID had donated $500 000 to the office.
She said the office incurred R5-million in irregular expenditure due to consultants.
USAID said there was nothing untoward about its relationship with the public protector. The money was meant for training for investigators, specifically in corruption and fraud detection, alternative dispute resolution and report writing. The intention was to increase their effectiveness.
US embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey said the money was donated following discussions with treasury and the justice department to provide “technical assistance” to key areas of the public protector’s five-year strategic plan.
Earlier, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) said such funding brought Madonsela’s integrity into question and threatened the public protector’s independence.
MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe claimed Madonsela had not followed procedure in her “state capture” report. He alleged the report was completed in a hurry and was intended to tarnish President Jacob Zuma’s image and create divisions within the ANC to suit her funders.
“America cannot fund you without putting their interests first. Thuli Madonsela must explain what were the conditions of the grants that she received from USAID. America does not fund and give grants for nothing. There are always conditions,” Maphatsoe said.
Madonsela said no government institution received foreign funding directly. The South African government received the money and allocated it to Chapter 9 institutions like the public protector, Human Rights Commission, and auditor-general. – News24