/ 6 February 2017

Mkhwebane: no decision to oppose Zuma review on State of Capture report yet

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela makes a presentation to members of the NCOP Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill in Parliament.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela makes a presentation to members of the NCOP Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill in Parliament.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is still waiting for a legal opinion on whether the public protector’s office should oppose President Jacob Zuma’s application to review and set aside the State of Capture report.

Mkhwebane, speaking to Radio 702 host Xolani Gwala on Tuesday morning, refused to definitively say whether the public protector’s office would oppose Zuma’s application which was made in the Pretoria high court in December.

“I’m supposed to comply to court rules,” she said.

“I indicated that we’ve requested a legal opinion from senior counsel with the attroneys of record and then I will respond soon.”

Mkhwebane said that her office has not had enough time to prepare an affidavit with compelling reasons as to why Zuma’s application should be opposed.

Zuma is asking the court to review former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendation that a judicial inquiry should be established to investigate state capture. Madonsela said in the report that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should appoint the judge to sit on the commission rather than Zuma.

In his affidavit, Zuma challenged the recommendation because it “violates the rule of law that it is inconsistent with the Constitution and breaches the separation of powers principle”. 

Last week, Mkhwebane said that she had sought legal advice on the matter before deciding whether her office will oppose Zuma’s application. If Zuma is successful, it could mean that the president will appoint, which would mean that Zuma will have a significant role in choosing who investigates the allegations against him.

The public protector said that she supports Madonsela’s recommendation to establish a commission of an inquiry into the allegations.

“Yes I support the proposition made by my predecessor as far as the judiciary inquiry is concerned because of the capacity constraint within the Public Protector South Africa. That will be very helpful for the judicial inquiry to do that,” she said.

She remained silent, however, on whether she agreed that the chief justice should appoint the judge.

“I don’t hate Madonsela”
On Saturday, Madonsela told eNCA that she believed that the presidency and the State Security Agency (SSA) has interfered in the public protector’s and is effectively pursuing revenge on Madonsela for the Nkandla and State of Capture reports. 

“I have no evidence but I suspect that either President Zuma or people linked to him are behind what’s happening at the Public Protector’s office. I have no evidence but I suspect that the State Security Agency is behind some of the things that happened in my office before the Public Protector was appointed and what has happened since then,” she said.

According to Madonsela, the public protector’s office has illegally deducted R470 000 from her pension. Her son reportedly crashed her car, and the cost includes repairs on the vehicle as well as the amount it would cost for her continued use of the car after her term completed. She says, however, that the VIP Protection Unit allowed her to use the car.

Madonsela believes that Mkhwebane has ill-feelings towards her
“It does seem she has an issue with me,” Madonsela said to eNCA.

But on Monday, Mkhwebane denied Madonsela’s allegations.

“I don’t hate her. From my side I’m cordial, I don’t have anything against my predecessor,” Mkhwebane told Gwala.

“If there’s any need to check with her on work-related matters, we will indeed check with her.”

Mkhwebane also denied that she is favouring Zuma, and said that she will receive legal opinion on the president’s application this week.