The Deputy Minister of Defence, Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also a military veteran, has accused the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of being a CIA operative and has said that she must tell the ruling party who her handler in the American spy agency is. He was speaking to people gathered in Soweto on Saturday to witness the tombstone unveiling of Linda Jubane, who was popularly known as the Lion of Chiawelo. Deputy minister Maphatsoe added that they would not stand around and watch as people destroyed the ruling ANC. He said that they would stand up and fight for the their party. What apparently sparked off this vitriol was a statement that is attributed to the Public Protector as she was speaking on radio. Madonsela is said to have ‘claimed’ to have been an UMkhonto WeSizwe underground operative. This was hotly contested by the Deputy Minister who said they did not have details to support Madonsela’s assertion.
When asked about his Central Intelligence Agency operative claims, Maphatsoe was unrepentant. He went further to say that he was prepared to provide full details to support his claims that Madonsela was an American agent. He said that Thuli Madonsela was using her position to undermine the different institutions of the country’s democracy like parliament, government and the ruling party. In her turn, Thuli Madonsela vowed on Sunday night that she would serve papers on Maphatsoe to retract the statement he had made and apologise or he had to provide irrefutable evidence to support what he had said. He will have seven days in which to do this if he is served with the papers. Thuli, who claims to have known about the peddling of rumours about her involvement in the CIA for about a month, announced that the Deputy Minister was not the only high profile personality to have made these claims. She said that the Mpumalanga MEC for Sport, Culture and Recreation, Norah Mahlangu-Mabena had been served with papers to retract statements she had made to the effect that Madonsela was an agent.
The relationship between the head of the Public Protector’s office which is a Chapter 9 institution of the South African constitution started its downward spiral when Madonsela was called upon to investigate the spending of state funds on the security upgrades on President Zuma’s Nkandla home. She consequently found that some upgrades were not in keeping with security provisions and that the President has to pay back a part of the more than a quarter of a billion rand used on the upgrades.
Responding to these claims by Deputy Minister about Madonsela being a CIA operative on Monday afternoon, the United Staes of America ambassador to South Africa said these statement were not only unfounded but were highly offensive. The ANC distanced itself from Maphatsoe’s comments about Madonsela. It described them as ‘unfortunate’ and expressed its support for the office of the Public Protector. “The ANC believes that the exchange is extremely unfortunate, however the ANC has no information at its disposal to comment further on the matter. As the ANC we reaffirm our support and confidence in the institutions established to promote and safeguard our democracy, notably the Office of the Public Protector,” said ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa in a statement.