Defence Minister Mapisa-Nqakula hits back at public protector

Defence Minister Mapisa-Nqakula hits back at public protector

SA defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula with former chief of the SA Army Vusi Masondo at a wreath-laying ceremony for SANDF soldiers who died while serving under the United Nations command in other African countries. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

She denies that departments under her had ignored recommended remedial actions from Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Friday said she took exception to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane “naming and shaming” her departments among the many government entities that simply ignored her remedial action.

Mkhwebane this week listed 38 matters where institutions had not acted on her binding remedial action. She named and shamed several state entities including Eskom; the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration; National Treasury; the South African National Defence Force; and the city of Tshwane.

The public protector on Thursday said the idea of naming and shaming institutions was that in the end, public pressure would encourage them to “do the right thing”.

However, on Friday Mapisa-Nqakula hit back saying: “In my capacity as minister of defence and military veterans, I have over the years cooperated with a number of investigations and reports of the office of the public protector, in relation to both departments that fall under my executive authority”.

Although the defence minister said she had “great respect” for the public protector office and its mandate as enshrined in the constitution, she denied that departments under her had ignored recommended remedial actions.

“There is currently only one report of the office of the public protector wherein the department of defence has challenged the findings and recommendations of the public protector in a court of law through the launching of a review application,” said Mapisa-Nqakula, adding that the report happens to be in the matter of Lt Col B Mvithi.

“I, therefore, take exception to the fact that the public protector would single out this report in her ‘naming and shaming report’, issued to the South African public on 28 February 2019.

“Upon receipt of the public protector’s final report in 2017, I acknowledged receipt and indicated that my department wishes to place on record its intention to review the findings and recommendations set out therein.

“In November 2017, the review application was filed, but I am informed that the finalisation of the matter has been delayed by the failure of the office of the public protector to timeously file the record of proceedings.”

She said Mkhwebane had not opposed the review application and filed a notice to abide by the court’s findings.

“I am also informed that the complainant, Lt Col Mvithi, has also not filed any opposing papers in this matter.

“The only party to have done so is the office of the military ombud. Currently, the heads of argument are being finalised to be filed [which], after the matter, will be set down in the North Gauteng High Court.

“A matter wherein we are seeking the public protector’s report to be set aside as being unlawful and or unconstitutional in a court of law cannot be a matter where we are named and shamed for non-compliance, especially in light of the matters at hand in this matter and how it goes to the heart of section 200 of the constitution requiring the defence force to be managed as a disciplined military force.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said she was awaiting the outcome of the review case and would abide by the decision of the court.

– African News Agency

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