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Court challenge premature: Protector

Johannesburg - The government’s plan to take the Public Protector to court over her Nkandla report is premature, said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

“The architecture of our constitutional democracy as we understand it requires that the matter be debated in Parliament first. Should there no common understanding, the matter can then be taken to court,” said Madonsela.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

She said she could not imagine any court finding in the ministers’ favour.

Earlier the security cluster ministers said they planned to challenge Madonsela’s report.

“The security cluster ministers have resolved to take the Public Protector’s report on the security upgrades installed in the private residence of the President (“the Nkandla report”) on judicial review by the High Court,” said national government spokeswoman Phumla Williams in a statement on Thursday.

“The grounds of the review will be fully canvassed in the review papers.”

Madonsela’s on state spending on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead has embarrassed the government, particularly as it was used to score political points by opposition parties in the run up to the recent election. When Madonsela released the report in March she said R215 million had been spent on Nkandla while the total project cost was conservatively estimated at R246m.

Zuma has repeatedly said that he has done nothing wrong.

The government plans to challenge Madonsela’s report on legal technicalities relating to the Public Protector’s powers.

“It is the ministers’ view that the Public Protector’s report and the investigation she conducted trespass on the separation of powers doctrine and offend against section 198(d) of the Constitution which vests national security in Parliament and National Executive,” said Williams.

“It is also the ministers’ view that some of the findings and remedial action proposed by the Public Protector in her report are irrational, contradictory and are informed by material errors of law. The ministers’ legal team has been instructed to prepare and file review papers in due course.”

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