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Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela says she was not sur­prised by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s de­ci­sion to ca­pit­u­late in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court be­cause the pres­i­dent had never said he would not pay back the money. In an in­ter­view with City Press, Madon­sela also said while she has not ex­pe­ri­enced per­sonal an­i­mos­ity from Zuma, her in­vi­ta­tions to govern­ment events had grad­u­ally dis­ap­peared over time.

While she is hailed for her fierce in­de­pen­dence, Madon­sela has of­ten come un­der fire from the gov­ern­ing ANC for ex­ag­ger­at­ing her pow­ers.

“My in­vi­ta­tions to events were ei­ther eaten by our dogs (which we don’t have), or got lost in the post of­fice,” she said, laugh­ing.

Madon­sela said while be­fore she was in­vited to dif­fer­ent govern­ment func­tions, re­cently it was only to the state of the na­tion ad­dress where she was be­ing in­vited. Last year she did not even crack a nod to the an­nual Pres­i­den­tial Awards func­tion, where she al­ways used to fea­ture.

Madon­sela said she had a cor­dial meet­ing with Zuma be­fore the court case last week, adding that while the pres­i­dent had al­ways ac­cused her of jump­ing the gun and not be­ing a judge, he had “al­ways said he is wait­ing for all th­ese other pro­cesses to con­clude”.

“My ar­gu­ment was that those pro­cesses by Par­lia­ment and the po­lice min­is­ter were flawed and un­law­ful.”

She said there was a flawed un­der­stand­ing of the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers.

“Sep­a­ra­tion of power means I can­not do your work, but it al­lows for me to do over­sight on how you ex­er­cise your au­thor­ity.”

At best, Zuma could be ac­cused of plac­ing peo­ple who worked un­der him in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, she said.

“If I say I did noth­ing wrong and I [ap­point] some­one, who is my sub­or­di­nate, to find the pos­si­bil­ity that I may have done some­thing wrong, [that is dif­fi­cult].”

Madon­sela said it was clear peo­ple did not un­der­stand the prin­ci­ple of un­jus­ti­fied en­rich­ment, which re­sulted in Zuma be­ing or­dered to pay for non­se­cu­rity fea­tures.

Madon­sela was pic­tured smil­ing when the lawyer act­ing for Par­lia­ment, Lindiwe Nkosi-Thomas SC, made her sub­mis­sion and was be­ing grilled by the judges this week. But she says her grin­ning was mis­un­der­stood. “When she just started, I said her ar­gu­ment will be based on par­lia­men­tary democ­racy [mean­ing you can­not

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