Shivambu defends Mkhwebane against Madonsela

Professor Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Henk Kruger /ANA /African News Agency

Professor Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Henk Kruger /ANA /African News Agency

While the public protector says announcing section 7(9) notices is not new, her predecessor says her office never did it.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has responded to claims made by her successor Busisiwe Mkhwebane that she too used to announce section 7(9) notices and provisional reports.

Mkhwebane made headlines last week after announcing that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had been implicated in her investigation into the “rogue unit” at the South African Revenue Service. Mkhwebane also announced that her probe of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s donation from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson was ongoing, but not yet at a reporting stage.

Mkhwebane also took it a step further and announced that she had issued Gordhan with a Section 7(9) notice, a decision that was highly criticised by Gordhan’s lawyers, and now Madonsela, who said Mkhwebane’s actions were “unprecedented”.

In her defence, Mkhwebane slammed those who had accused her of targeting Gordhan and Ramaphosa, and asked if Madonsela’s investigation methods were ever questioned.

She said: “In the twelve months leading up to March 31, 2019, I had investigated 14,000 cases. Only two related to Minister Gordhan while one concerned the president. There has been only one report against Minister Gordhan and none against the president in the 102 I have issued thus far. There is also the ridiculous claim that I am targeting Minister Gordhan and President Ramaphosa.

Madonsela, however, said her name had been “wrongfully” used.

She told Business Day that Mkhwebane should not have used her predecessor to justify her actions. While the public protector announced on social media last week that she had issued Gordhan with a Section 7(9) notice, Madonsela said her office never announced such.

She told the publication: “When the media asked my office if anyone was implicated, we’d say it’s confidential. It may be that an implicated person provides us with evidence that exonerates him or her. Should that happen, we would not want their reputation to be unfairly besmirched through us identifying them as implicated.”

She further said on social media: “To those who don’t know, announcing that you’ve released a provisional report is not the same as announcing you’ve released a section 7(9) notice. The latter could contain a decision that exculpates whoever was accused whereas the latter is solely to say you are implicated.

“Furthermore, by the time I left office, we had long stopped issuing provisional reports and never announced that we had issued a section 7(9) notice till the state capture report where section 7(9) notices were issued, including to president Zuma, without a public announcement.”

Madonsela said she decided to speak up on the matter because it was her responsibility to clear her name, in a move that was highly criticised by Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

Shivambu told the former public protector to “relax” and allow Mkhwebane to do her job.

He said: “She did her job, had some of her case overturned by courts, released some reports for political motives, and we bid her farewell. Please don’t force us to change our opinions about you.”

In her defence, Madonsela told Shivambu that the truth about her office had to be told.

“But my name should not be invoked wrongly. If it is, I not only have a right but a responsibility to tell the truth. I never announced that I’d issued a section 7(9) because that’s prejudicial. This was so right until the end when I issued one against the president on state capture.”

The public protector has, however, reiterated that announcing section 7(9) notices was not new.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.




today in print