The Nkandla Report: Madonsela Dragged to Court

By Oliver Ngwenya    16-May-2014 06:24 UTC+02:00
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Photo: Destini Connect.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Photo: Destini Connect.

The Nkandla saga rages on. If the public thought that the conflict between the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and the government had blown itself over, it appears it has another thought coming. This, after it emerged on Wednesday that the government was planning to drag Madonsela to court about the report that she released more than a month ago.

Following an investigation into the security upgrades to the President’s Nkandla home in KwaZulu Natal, Madonsela released a damning report that, among other things, found that President Jacob Zuma and his family benefitted improperly from the security upgrades. She recommended that the President pay back part of the close to a quarter of a billion rand that was used for the upgrades. In his response, the president has insisted several times and at different fora that he had done nothing wrong as he did not know about the extravagance during the upgrades. However, some faint voices of descent in the ruling party have indicated that he was well aware of what transpired. After the release of the report, the speaker of parliament, Max Sisulu did not waste time and instituted a parliamentary committee to consider the president’s response to the report. The work of this committee was quickly vetoed by the ANC members who were the majority in the committee and voted to postpone the work until after elections.

The recent developments, however, indicate that the ANC has no intention of taking the whole Nkandla furore lying down. According to the national government spokeswoman, Phumla Williams, the security cluster ministers have resolve to take the Nkandla report for judicial review before the High Court. The reasons she gave are that some of the statements and accusations made in the report are irrational and contradictory. The security cluster also plans to raise legal technicalities relating to the Public Protector’s powers, which would directly relate to and question Thuli’s qualification to conduct the investigation. Phumla Williams stated that the investigation and consequently, the report infringe on the separation of powers doctrine adding that the ministers’ legal teams were in the process of compiling the relevant paperwork for the challenge.

In response to the news that her report was being taken before the High Court, Thuli Madonsela said that the security cluster ministers had jumped the gun. She stated that while she had no issues with the report being taken to court, she believed that, according to the Constitution, the first step would have been for the report to be debated before parliament. Once this had been done and no consensus was reached, it would then be taken for judicial review by the High Court. She emphatically stated that in her opinion, no court would pass judgement in favour of the security cluster ministers. It needs to be noted at this point that the two sides of the security cluster ministers have met before in court over the same report and Madonsela had emerged victorious.

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