ANC whip attacks handling of Nkandla report

thuli madonselaFrom SAPA

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela stood her ground regarding her handling of the Nkandla report, amid attacks by ANC chief whip Stone Sizani in Parliament on Wednesday.

Sizani accused Madonsela of overstepping her mark at a media briefing in Parliament on Wednesday.

He said Madonsela was obliged to submit her report to Parliament and suggested that by waiting for a presidential response, she was flouting her accountability to the legislature.

Madonsela said she merely followed the law.

“The Speaker has not requested the Public Protector to submit the report in terms of the Public Protector Act and neither has the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP),” her spokesman Oupa Segalwe said in a statement.

“The Public Protector will dispatch the report should it be requested by the Speaker or the Chairperson of the NCOP.”

The 400-page report titled “Secure in Comfort” found that President Jacob Zuma should pay back a portion of the R246 million in state funds that was spent at Nkandla but did not go towards improving security measures.

Madonsela has, in line with the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, given Zuma two weeks to respond to her report.

Segalwe said the public protector’s submission of a report to Parliament is regulated by the Public Protector Act, which states that the public protector shall, at any time, submit a report to the National Assembly on the findings of a particular investigation if:

– He or she deems it necessary

– He or she deems it in the public interest

– If it requires the urgent attention of, or an intervention by, the National Assembly

– He or she is requested to do so by the Speaker of the National Assembly; or

– He or she is requested to do so by the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

“In view of the fact that the report was to be submitted to the National Assembly by the president within 14 days of its issuing by the Public Protector, in her view, none of the circumstances in 1 to 3 above existed at the time of the delivery of the report,” he said.

Segalwe said the Speaker (Max Sisulu) has not requested Madonsela to submit the report in terms of Act and neither has the chairperson of the NCOP.

She would dispatch the report should it be requested by Sisulu or the NCOP.

“The Public Protector decided to follow the law because of the difficulty she experienced with the IEC report,” he said.

Efforts to meet with Sisulu prior to the release of the Electoral Commission of SA report did not materialise.

Madonsela’s IEC report found that chairwoman Pansy Tlakula acted irregularly in the procurement of the IEC office building in Centurion, south of Pretoria.

Madonsela denied Sizani’s remarks that she referred to the inter-ministerial committee appointed to probe the Nkandla upgrades as the “little committee of ministers”.

“Firstly, the Public Protector never referred to the inter-ministerial committee as a ‘little committee of ministers’… She said a ‘committee of officials’,” Segalwe said.

He said Madonsela stood by her statement that the committee’s report could not be compared to a report coming from an independent constitutional body.

This was because it was the result of an investigation conducted by a committee of officials “appointed by a minister whose department’s conduct was in question”.

“The committee was not an independent institution nor did it have legal standing,” he said.

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