LISTEN! Thuli Madonsela grills President Zuma – leaked tapes Zuma doesn’t want you to hear

Thuli Madonsela. Picture courtesy of Twitter @YouMagazine
Thuli Madonsela. Picture courtesy of Twitter @YouMagazine

President Jacob Zuma has lodged a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector after tapes recording an interview he had with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela were handed to the media. The tapes were first uploaded to a South African television channel website following the release of the #StateCaptureReport, which contains explosive allegations about rampant corruption across the South African government. Listening to these tapes, it is clear that Madonsela isn’t afraid to ask Zuma hard questions. She also calls him out for trying to hide behind his lawyer and reminds him that he is a citizen and therefore subject to the laws of the land, too. See transcript and highlights below. – Jackie Cameron

The Presidency lodges a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector

Jacob Zuma
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The Presidency has lodged a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector regarding the leaking of an audio recording of the discussions that took place during the meeting between President Jacob Zuma and the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, during her investigation into allegations of state capture, which was released on 2 November 2016 as the State of Capture Report.

The audio recording was leaked to the television channel ENCA.
The Presidency has sought clarity from the Office of the Public Protector on the policy of the institution regarding the release of audio recordings of interviews conducted during the course of investigations.

Zuma in #StateCaptureReport – interview highlights

Highlights from the leaked four-hour Zuma #StateCaptureReport tapes that first emerged on eNCA include:

  • “All I’m asking is for honest answers,” says Madonsela in just one of her pleas to Zuma to answer her questions.
  • “Those answers can’t change with legal advice, they can’t,” she says as Zuma defers repeatedly to his legal representative.
  • The report raises the possibility that the president may have violated the Executive Ethics Code by turning a blind eye to alleged corrupt practices.
  • The transcript details Madonsela’s frustrated discussions with the president’s lawyer Michael Hulley over process and the president’s explanations of why he couldn’t answer questions about his relationship with the influential Gupta family.
  • Madonsela asks why Zuma needs a lawyer to be able to tell her why he removed ministers.
  • The interview concludes with the former public protector agreeing to accept an affidavit from Zuma responding to her questions, with a follow-up meeting to ask questions. Instead, notes eNCA, she received an interdict, a day before she was due to leave office, that aimed to prevent her releasing her findings
Zuma tapes
The Public Protector’s office shared tapes of an interview with President Jacob Zuma when it released the #StateCaptureReport

Quotable quotes


“I am concerned though that President, you are the President of the Republic of South Africa and you are employee number one.

“Normally when we are dealing with people who are responsible for the State, we deal with them and the lawyers they come in where necessary, because it is you who is accountable.

“I’m just worried that we are engaging with your lawyer … in fact it is firstly unusual because the Act talks about you having a right to legal assistance, not representation.

“It’s not about refuting people’s allegations – it’s about telling me what you know.”


I would really request that you give me some time to look and get the advice from my legal people as well, and look and read, because I have not even read the allegations that have come, what is in the papers that have been there.

“Legal people were looking at them and we could arrange for me to then answer the questions after this, but for today I would be really ill-prepared.

“I’m willing to answer, but I would request some time to look at the matters that had been given to me and also get advice, legal advice.”

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