Nkandla case biggest winner and South Africa’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has hit back at deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery after the latter expressed doubts regarding SA’s protector’s powers.
Madonsela who took to Twitter to defend herself stated that she has never been unsure about her powers in the Nkandla saga.
“I’ve never been confused about powers of @PublicProtector. To suggest otherwise & selectively quote from a repudiated document is dishonest,” she tweeted during the debate.
During the heated parliamentary sitting on Tuesday, deputy Justice minister Jerry asserted that the Constitutional Court did not say that President Jacob Zuma seriously violated the Constitution in his handling of the Public Protector’s report.
Jeffery, who spoke on behalf of the ANC during the debate also referenced former Public Protector Selby Baqwa, saying Baqwa had been quoted as saying that although his findings were not binding, the government had upheld 90% of the protector’s report.
Jeffery also claimed that Thuli Madonsela was even unsure. He added that “there is a difference, whether the DA likes it or not, between an inconsistency and a violation.”
In another counter-tweet, Madonsela bashed Jeffery for being so sparing with the truth.
The deputy Justice minister further argued that Section 89.1 of the Constitution allowed for the removal of the president under certain circumstances, but last Thursday’s Constitutional Court judgment against Zuma and National Assembly, was not such an occasion.
He said, “it was against this legal backdrop of strong ideas that the Public Protector’s remedial action was not binding, and that events unfolded in the way that they did”. He argued that former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki were also found to have violated the Constitution in the past.
Jeffery, who piled up lots of argument during the sitting is believed to have done so in order to show that the president and the House never acted in bad faith.
“His failure to implement the recommendations of the public protector was on the belief, for which there was considerable support at the time, that remedial action was not binding,” Jeffery added.
While he poured out more controversies, DA MP James Selfe countered his statements, maintaining that Madonsela never said she was unsure of the public protector’s powers, but while Selfe was speaking, his voice was drowned out by interminable shouts from ANC MPs.
“She was never confused. It was the honourable deputy minister that was confused. He has been disproved in every court of the land,” Selfe asserted.
It is imperative to note that a motion to remove the president, which was proposed by the DA and supported by majority of opposition parties held on Tuesday. However, the motion failed with 233 MPs voting against it and 143 in favour. There were no abstentions.
Meanwhile, Madonsela’s action has been welcomed as it tells clearly that the defiant legal luminary knows much about SA’s protector’s powers.