2 minute read
11 Nov 2013
7:19 am

Officials act with impunity


Not many people would choose to find themselves in Thuli Madonsela’s shoes. The Public Protector is being besieged on all fronts as she tries to release the results of what could be her most significant investigation to date.

Madonsela has said that those eager to see the report would probably be disappointed by the contents, which has been interpreted to mean that it won’t contain any shocking information implicating President Jacob Zuma in any wrongdoing related to the R200-million security upgrade of his Nkandla home.

But government’s decision to approach the courts to prevent the release of the Nkandla report has certainly created the impression that the report contains information that would be damaging to the Zuma administration.

It matters not whether this is true or whether the interdict was sought simply so that the ministerial security cluster could have more time to assess whether the report in its current form would compromise the president’s security. In the world of politics, appearance often matters more than reality, and government has definitely contributed to the impression that all was not well in how taxpayer money ended up being used at Nkandla.

Yesterday, The Sunday Independent also reported that IEC chairman Pansy Tlakula had lodged court papers to have Madonsela’s report on her set aside. The report found Tlakula liable for misconduct and maladministration relating to the procurement of the IEC’s head office. When it was released, Parliament said that it could not act against the IEC chairman, as it had no legal authorisation to do so.

Once again, the impression created by these events is that senior government officials can act with impunity, shrugging off revelations of wrongdoing without receiving so much as a slap on the wrist, never mind resigning or being relieved of their positions.

The ruling party oft en complains that the media’s coverage of it and government is too critical. But when it behaves the way it has lately toward the Public Protector, the stories write themselves.