Thuli Madonsela’s Media Address in Brief
On Thursday, 30 July 2015, the ANC used their majority to vote against calling Thuli Madonsela to parliament to be questioned about her March 2014 report on Nkandla. In the report she recommended that Zuma must pay back a reasonable amount of the money spent on those features not related to security (including the swimming pool, visitors centre, cattle kraal, chicken run, and amphitheatre).
However, in Nathi Nhleko’s report on Nkandla – released on 28 May 2015 – the Police Minister found that all features at Nkandla, including those listed above, are necessary for Zuma’s security and that Zuma, therefore, doesn’t need to pay back any of the R246 million.
Madonsela called for a media briefing, which was held on Monday, 3 August. She used this briefing to address the National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, MPs, and South Africans, stating; “I’m deeply saddened by the fact that I have to use the media as a platform to address you”. She also pointed out that the “vitriolic attacks” aimed at her office after the Nkandla report had never before been seen in the 20 years of the Public Protector’s existence.
Impartiality of The Public Protector
In her response, Madonsela further noted the silence of President Zuma, stating: “I’ve also been wondering what he is making of these vicious attacks” and quoted him saying in 2011 that “The Office of the Public Protector… has to ensure that citizens are protected from violations of their rights [and] the abuse of power… People will have faith in the office if they know that the Public Protector will act impartially…”. She further reiterated that the Chapter 9 institutions, including The Public Protector, have guaranteed independence according to the Constitution and that section 181 states: No person or organs of state may interfere with the functioning of these institutions.
A Call on All South Africans
She further stated: “The office of the public protector is an important institution. It provides what will often be a last defence against bureaucratic oppression, and against corruption and malfeasance in public office that are capable of insidiously destroying the nation”. Madonsela ended her response by saying that she is “hopeful that this statement will be received and considered in the spirit of putting our Constitution and our people first” and reminded the people of South Africa that if they “… think [the] Constitution is being trampled on” they should do something.
Quotes taken from the address by Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela, as issued by the Office of the Public Protector, August 3 2015.