Cabinet’s happiness ‘is not the issue’

Pretoria - The views of President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet on the public protector’s report on upgrades to his private property in Nkandla “have nothing to do with being happy or unhappy with Thuli Madonsela”.

That’s according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who is also acting minister in the Presidency.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Addressing a post cabinet media briefing yesterday, Motshekga said that when Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and other members of the cabinet issued a statement defending Zuma on Wednesday, it was based on just the executive summary of Madonsela’s damning 443-page Nkandla report.

“She’s appointed by Parliament. She has her term and it’s a matter between her and Parliament. No one was expressing love or lack thereof. It was not on the table. There was no love lost or gained,” said Motshekga.

“We had not had the opportunity to study the report. So we agreed there would be a team studying the report and give a full (reaction). The statement was merely informed by the executive summary. So there will be an opportunity,” she said.

At the briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Radebe had said that, despite Madonsela’s findings that Zuma benefited improperly from the upgrade project in the name of security, the government maintained that all renovations at his private home were related to security and no public funds were used.

Responding to a question on whether the cabinet was happy with Madonsela’s performance, Motshekga said she was not sure why the cabinet should discuss its feelings about the public protector or her performance.

“I’m not sure why would cabinet would have any (feelings). It’s not for them to be happy or unhappy. All your Section 9’s (Chapter 9 institutions) are appointed not by cabinet, but by Parliament.

“So Thuli and other Section 9 institutions report to Parliament. So it’s not for us to be happy when the auditor-general has findings (for example),” said Motshekga.

Senior government ministers have already rallied around Zuma after the report condemned him and some of his ministers over the R215m upgrades at Nkandla. It said the acts and omissions that allowed Zuma and his immediate family to unduly benefit from the project constituted unlawful conduct, improper conduct and maladministration.

Radebe said on Wednesday none of the ministers who had been implicated in Madonsela’s report would be fired or resign until Zuma pronounced on the issue.