“Government distances itself from such accusations as they were never discussed at any official government meeting nor do they reflect the views and thinking of government,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said.
“Comments or allegations against any country or persons, including those responsible for guarding and upholding constitutional values, should be raised and addressed at appropriate platforms. South Africa enjoys a cordial diplomatic relationship with the United States of America.”
It was reported on Monday that Maphatsoe, who chairs the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), had accused Madonsela of being a CIA plant.
“We can’t allow people to hijack the ANC. We’ll fight and defend the African National Congress. uThuliumele asitshele ukuthi ubani ihandler yakhe [Thuli must tell us who her handler is],” Maphatsoe reportedly said in Soweto on Saturday.
“They are even using our institution now…. These Chapter Nine institutions were created by the ANC but are now being used against us, and if you ask why it is the Central Intelligence Agency. Ama [the] Americans want their own CEO in South Africa and we must not allow that,” Maphatsoe reportedly said.
However, at a press briefing later on Monday the MKMVA denied the statement, but conceded that a reference to the CIA had been made.
“He did make reference to the possibility of a CIA machination in an attempt to destabilise the country,” Maphatsoe’s special adviser Ike Moroe told reporters in Johannesburg.
US Embassy spokesman Jack Hillmeyer confirmed on Monday that the country’s ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard would lodge an official diplomatic complaint about the allegations.
Madonsela has given Maphatsoe three days to prove his claim.
“She also expects Mr Maphatsoe to issue a retraction and public apology within the said period, failing which she will be left with no choice but to invoke the contempt of the Public Protector powers in terms of sections nine and 11 of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994,” her spokesman Oupa Segalwe said.
According to the act, it is a crime to insult the Public Protector.
Radebe, who is also the chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee on information and publicity, said the government reiterated its trust in Chapter Nine institutions, like the office of the Public Protector.
“Government hails the role that is played by the institutions to ensure its accountability and the strengthening of South Africa’s democracy,” he said.
“We have created these high institutions to ensure that South Africa remains a constitutional state and government remains steadfast to protecting their role in taking the country forward.”