It looks like the battle is not over for public protector, Thuli Madonsela. The security cluster does not intend to be scared by the public protector’s latest announcement and seem to have come out with both barrels blazing.
After her recent public announcements to the effect that several ministries in the security cluster had tried to close down her investigation, and that she did not see any security breach in her report, the minister of police has come out in defence of his fellow ministries, adding that she was not an expert on the subject of security and could not make that call.
This was contained in a court affidavit that was released by Madonsela’s office on Thursday afternoon and it had been filed by the security cluster(the ministries of defence, police, state security and public works) at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The big bone of contention is the report that the office of the public protector is due to release on the now notorious upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s residence at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the affidavit, the State did not obstruct Public Protector’s investigation into upgrades to the president’s residence at all and it further states that they have no desire to dictate to Madonsela’s office when and how to release their provisional report. They further argue that the allegations she makes that her investigation team was obstructed and frustrated were wide off the mark.
The report on the R206m upgrade to President Zuma’s Nkandla residence was given to the security cluster at the beginning of November apparently following a special request for access prior to other interested parties. However, the cluster of security ministries disputes this, arguing that this was in fact at the suggestion of Thuli Madonsela’s office itself. This advance viewing privilege was meant for the ministries to assess whether the report did not compromise the President’s security.
The problem came to a head on Friday when the security cluster filed an urgent application to prevent Madonsela from releasing the report. The State’s application was set down to be heard by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday. In this affidavit, the ministries argue that they are mandated by the Constitution to ensure the security of the Presidency and the country and would not relegate that responsibility to the Public Protector who was not an expert on these matters. They further contend that their interest could not be interpreted as interference in the office of Madonsela.