Presidency accuses Madonsela of abusing the name of the president


The Presidency has expressed outrage by utterances by the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela on TV news channel, ENCA that she is being targeted by President Jacob Zuma on reported deductions from her gratuity at her former place of employment.

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On 4 February, eNCA aired an interview with Madonsela in which she stated that she suspected Zuma or people linked to him were to blame for deductions from her pension payout.

Madonsela said R470 000 was deducted from her payout and said she believed she was being targeted for the Nkandla report, but the Presidency has rubbished the allegations.

“According to section 2(2) of the Public Protector Act, the remuneration and conditions of service of the Public Protector are determined by Parliament,” read a statement issued by the Presidency.

Zuma’s office further pointed out that the president did not play any role when it came to salary and conditions of service of the Public Protector. “It is unfortunate that Madonsela decided to use the president’s name in matters which do not involve him,” said the statement, adding that the abuse of the name of the president in such a matter was preposterous and disappointing. The Presidency has urged Madonsela to refrain from such conduct.

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The office of the Public Protector has stated that it had valid reasons to withhold the said money. It pointed out that the money had to do with costs incurred for fixing the State vehicle that Madonsela was entrusted after it was crashed by her son in 2012. “A legal opinion has been sought from the office of the State Attorney to clarify if indeed Madonsela is liable for the costs associated with fixing the State car,” read a statement from the office of the Public Protector.

The statement went on to highlight that pending the procurement of the legal advice, it was decided that due care must be taken to not inconvenience Madonsela, hence the office released to her the rest of her gratuity payout. Part of the withheld money is said to be for Madonsela’s use of the State car beyond her term of office. According to the Public Prosecutor’s statement, Govern Garage was charging their office for use of that car. Madonsela has however stated that the police’s VIP Protection Unit authorised her use of the said State vehicle.

The statement further highlighted that only the amount that was in dispute had been withheld. In the event the legal opinion indicated that Madonsela could not be held liable for the costs, the money would be released to her.

The Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane said there were no sinister motives behind this action. “This is being done purely as part of the due diligence and governance practices that must underpin any transaction that involves the use of public funds. This way, the office will be in a position to account to auditors and to parliament when questions on the expenditure arise,” Mkhwebane said in a statement.

Do you think the office of the Public Protector did right by withholding a portion of Thuli Madonsela’s pension payout? Share your views on @Sandton_News.

Belinda Pheto

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