Reports in the Sunday Times suggesting President Jacob Zuma lashed the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela make for amusing reading. Zuma is reportedly peeved because he feels Madonsela has made an unfair innuendo about Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who has exonerated the president from any wrongdoing.
Nhleko has found Zuma does not need to pay back any portion of the millions spent on supposed security upgrades at his private residence in Nkandla. Zuma is said to have told Madonsela it was unfair for her to give the impression that “because the minister of police is a member of cabinet” he was “consequently incapable of discharging a function foreshadowed by you [Madonsela] and largely adopted by parliament”.
According to the report, Madonsela’s sin was to write to the president to point out her report never specified the police minister would determine the amount of money Zuma was to repay to the public purse. Madonsela’s fi nal report calls on the national treasury and Saps to determine reasonable costs that do not relate to security upgrades.
Yesterday, the public protector was quoted as saying: “What Nhleko is doing is an illegal charade. It is not based on any of my reports.” Therein lies the problem – if the police minister is acting illegally, what hope do law-abiding citizens have that justice shall prevail. It is difficult to find any ulterior motive the public protector could possibly have in this ma er. Money was stolen from the public purse under the guise of improving security at the president’s private residence.
Madonsela is duty-bound to protect the public. It is not her job to sanitise the abuse of taxpayers’ money. Instead of lashing out at Madonsela, the president should be praising her for defending the interests of the public. He should rather focus on ensuring that those who spirited away millions in the name of security upgrades at his home are brought to book and the money is recovered.