Don’t co­coon Zuma, Thuli tells suc­ces­sor

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor warns Mkhwe­bane to pro­tect the pub­lic and not the pres­i­dent as ANC calls for probe into ‘leaked’ in­ter­view

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Thuli Madon­sela has warned the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor not to al­low her­self to be the pres­i­dent’s pro­tec­tor amid rev­e­la­tions that she (Madon­sela) is the sub­ject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by that of­fice. Madon­sela has been ac­cused of un­law­fully “leak­ing” an au­dio record­ing of her in­ter­view with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma – as part of her State of Cap­ture probe – to tele­vi­sion broad­caster eNCA. Zuma and the ANC have called for Madon­sela’s suc­ces­sor, Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane, to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter. On Fri­day, Zuma told Madon­sela in a state­ment to back off be­cause her term had ex­pired.

An un­fazed Madon­sela told City Press ear­lier in the week: “I must say that the pres­i­dency should be care­ful about what it gets the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor to do. For her own sake, she mustn’t be put in a po­si­tion where she is seen as the pres­i­dent’s pro­tec­tor. She has a job to do, and I think her job is to pro­tect peo­ple. The pres­i­dency, and par­tic­u­larly the pres­i­dent, should not make it ap­pear as if she is there to pro­tect the pres­i­dent.”

She said it was well within her pow­ers as the for­mer holder of the po­si­tion to make the in­ter­view pub­lic – which was in re­sponse to Zuma’s claims that he was not af­forded an op­por­tu­nity to de­fend him­self against the al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the fi­nal state cap­ture re­port.

“I don’t know about any law that is against what I did, but I will es­tab­lish that from the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor. For me, when I was Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, I was free to do what­ever I con­sid­ered proper,” she said. “I did not want to is­sue a me­dia state­ment where I say some­body is ly­ing or this one is telling the truth. “The idea was; here is the tran­script, have the au­dio, let the peo­ple de­cide. Is the pres­i­dent jus­ti­fied in say­ing he wasn’t given an op­por­tu­nity? The way I see it, [the re­leased in­ter­view] helped both me and the pres­i­dent to state our case[s], be­cause the au­dio speaks for the both of us. Let the peo­ple be the judge,” Madon­sela said. Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor spokesper­son Kgalalelo Ma­sibi said Mkhwe­bane had is­sued a strict di­rec­tive that no fur­ther pub­lic com­ments should be made on the mat­ter. In terms of the law, only the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor has pow­ers to de­ter­mine what in­ves­tiga­tive in­for­ma­tion goes pub­lic. In the state­ment is­sued by the pres­i­dent, Zuma ex­pressed his con­cern about Madon­sela’s re­lease of the au­dio. “This con­duct has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions with re­gards to ethics, con­fi­den­tial­ity and the pro­tec­tion of in­for­ma­tion gath­ered dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the of­fice of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor. It is also not clear why Ad­vo­cate Madon­sela de­cided to leak only the au­dio record­ings of the dis­cus­sion with the pres­i­dent, de­spite the fact that she had in­ter­viewed sev­eral wit­nesses,” Zuma com­mented. The ANC this week ac­cepted Madon­sela’s re­me­dial find­ings for a ju­di­cial in­quiry into state cap­ture. How­ever, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe warned that “con­sti­tu­tional pre­scripts” must be ob­served. He was re­fer­ring to Madon­sela’s stip­u­la­tion that Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng must ap­point the judge who will head up the com­mis­sion of in­quiry. Madon­sela said the ANC had in­ter­preted the Con­sti­tu­tion in a dif­fer­ent way than she had. “The in­ter­pre­ta­tion that I used is in­formed by an un­der­stand­ing that there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween ‘ap­point’ and ‘select’. And I was very care­ful there, [in] that I left the power of the pres­i­dent to ap­point a com­mis­sion; and I con­trolled the se­lec­tion part. You will know that the Con­sti­tu­tion says noth­ing about how the se­lec­tion process should be done, mean­ing it is open to be done in any way what­so­ever,” she said. “The in­ter­pre­ta­tion that I have used, is con­sis­tent with the ap­point­ment of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor. The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor is se­lected by Par­lia­ment, but ap­pointed by the pres­i­dent. It is there­fore not true that if the se­lec­tion is not done by some­one else, then your power to ap­point has been taken away.” While Madon­sela stated in her re­port that the com­mis­sion of in­quiry be set up within 30 days from the re­lease of the re­port, the process could be de­layed by any­one seek­ing re­view of the re­port. The pres­i­dent is yet to make a pro­nounce­ment on whether or not he will seek re­view. Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane in­di­cated last week that he would seek a re­view. Madon­sela said those ag­grieved should push for a speedy start to the com­mis­sion and not have a re­view. “If I [were some­one who] knew in my heart that I did noth­ing wrong, I hon­estly would want a com­mis­sion of in­quiry to clear my name,” she said.

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Thuli Madon­sela

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane

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