The deputy minister of defence, Kebby Maphatsoe, has apologised for the statement he made on Saturday. It was reported during the weekend that, while speaking at a tombstone unveiling for a fellow war veteran, Maphatsoe had accused the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a claim which was vehemently denied by the Public Protector. The deputy minister went on to demand that Thuli inform the African National Congress, who her handler at the CIA was in the bid by America to destabilize the Zuma administration. In response, Madonsela issued the minister an ultimatum of three days in which to withdraw the statement and apologise to the Public Protector or she would invoke the powers of the Public Protector Act.
In addition, by his statements, Maphatsoe also invoked diplomatic wrath from the American ambassador to South Africa, who labelled his utterances as baseless and unfounded. This almost caused a diplomatic fallout. The ripple effect of the deputy minister’s statements was the fact that, on Tuesday, he was called an idiot by a Democratic Alliance member of parliament, David Maynier, who had to leave the House after he refused to withdraw his statement.
All this seemed to have become too much for the minister who finally ended up making a formal withdrawal of his statements and an apology to the Public Protector late on Tuesday. He said that he had decided to withdraw his statements after consultation with the ANC because it seemed that his statements had been “misunderstood and misinterpreted”. Consequently, he said, “I therefore withdraw those statements and apologise for any offense and hurt that would have been caused.”
He however, hastened to add that the behavior of the Public Protector was something of concern in the ruling ANC. These statements emanate from the fact that the Public Protector has been investigating the conduct of President Zuma in the upgrades to his Nkandla home. In her report following the investigation, Madonsela found that of the close to a quarter of a billion rand used for the upgrades, there were some things that were to be paid for by the president as they did not constitute security upgrades.