Amid a growing chorus of business and political leaders calling for him to step down, President Jacob Zuma appears to have slipped out of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s hands. Madonsela had promised to complete an investigation into allegations of state capture, with her microscope on the Zuma family and associates including the rich Gupta family. But, the clock is ticking – and Zuma is playing for time. Zuma’s lawyers dragged out a meeting this week, arguing that incoming public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane should pick up the investigation. However, Mkhwebane has already made it clear that her style and priorities differ from Madonsela’s. Mkhwebane has said she will focus on rural councillors. Zuma has a record of successfully shaking off allegations of crime and corruption, so South Africans should not hold their collective breaths in anticipation that the public protector’s office is going to eject the the president from his seat. That job looks like it is going to be one for the powerful within the ANC. – Jackie Cameron
By Mahlatse Gallens
Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma wants the investigation into alleged state capture deferred to incoming Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, says outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Zuma and his legal team spent the bulk of their four-hour meeting on Thursday arguing that Mkhwebane take over the probe, she said in a statement.
The lawyers said there “wasn’t enough time to conclude the matter properly and that there was no reason for the investigation to be prioritised”.
She described the meeting as “cordial” and said she was told Zuma had not had time to prepare answers with legal advice, given the investigation timelines.
This was despite her advising him, in writing, on March 22 about the allegations against him, including his suspected breach of the Executive Ethics Code.
After lengthy deliberations, it was agreed that Zuma would be given a set of questions and that he would provide answers in an affidavit. He would meet the public protector again to provide answers on matters needing clarity.
Madonsela’s interview with Zuma formed part of her investigation into the alleged involvement of the Gupta family in the appointment of Cabinet ministers and board members of state-owned enterprises.
Madonsela was also probing the Gupta family’s alleged improper and possibly corrupt influence in the awarding of state contracts and licences to companies it had links to.
There we go! I hope that the Guptas and cronies don't end up being biggest beneficiaries of Madonsela's departure https://t.co/7V5KHOGuvW
— Zwelinzima Vavi (@Zwelinzima1) October 6, 2016
Madonsela leaves office this month. Zuma appointed Mkhwebane as the new public protector for a seven-year term, with effect from October 15.
The presidency has yet to respond to the statement.
I will prioritise ordinary South Africans, says new Public Protector
Newly appointed Pubic Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will prioritise cases of ordinary South Africans and will deal with the backlogs in her new office.
Advocate Mkhwebane takes over from Thuli Madonsela from October 15 after President Jacob Zuma approved her nomination on Wednesday.
“My biggest focus will be the backlogs. There are some cases which have been pending. I will make sure I deal with the backlogs because those people… have been waiting patiently for their cases to be finalised. That will be my key focus,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane said she wanted to empower people, especially in rural areas, to hold their councillors accountable. She was concerned about the Auditor General’s findings on unauthorised or irregular expenditure, especially at local government level. She said she wanted to make sure that the lives of ordinary South Africans were improved.
“On those issues, I think it is then to say ‘How can we work together to make sure… that whatever is budgeted for for that financial year, people are getting the services… That will help to make sure that the life for that ordinary South African be improved,’” Mkhwebane said.
Madonsela elevated the office of the Chapter 9 institution following her investigation into the upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s home. She found that he had unduly benefited. She recommended that he pay back the money.
Madonsela is also racing against time to complete the investigations on state capture.
Mkhwebane told News24 that she was ready to continue with the investigation without fear or favour, if it was not completed.
“I will continue doing the work. It will depend on the work that has already been done and still needs to be done. I think our approaches will never be the same, so I will have my own approach on how to handle the matter, but I will be guided by the Constitution, by the law and by the facts.
“So I am just ready to go in there and work and serve the people of the country…though my key focus as well is grassroots people,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane has promised to be transparent in her investigations and prevent leaks to the media before complainants have received the report. – News24