Leaking letter not in public interest: Protector

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iol news pic Thuli Madonsela Apr24 Independent Newspapers Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. File picture: Antoine de Ras

Pretoria - It was not in the public interest to leak to the media her letter to President Jacob Zuma, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Thursday.

“Both the leaking and the publishing (of the letter) were improper,” Madonsela told reporters in Pretoria.

This action was against public interest because it added to a “climate of mistrust”, she said.

In the past, her office had never had “any drama” or lack of co-operation from the president's office.

“Had the letter not been leaked, the president would have graciously considered my letter, as he has always done,” said Madonsela.

She would ask for a meeting with Zuma's office to “enable the way forward”.

She had been informed that a senior politician had leaked the letter to the media.

“The leaking and publishing of confidential information... is a problem,” she said.

But when it was a senior politician, “this is an even bigger problem”, she said.

Madonsela said there was “hysteria” after her Nkandla letter to President Jacob Zuma was leaked. This hysteria was “symptomatic of more underlying problems”, she said.

Madonsela said she was “particularly concerned over statements attributed to officials outside government”.

She said the public protector was an independent constitutional institution established to support and strengthen constitutional democracy.

Madonsela reportedly wrote to Zuma last week about the R246 million spent on upgrades at his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

In her letter she reportedly cautioned him that he was second-guessing her recommendations that he repay part of the money spent on features unrelated to security, such as a swimming pool, cattle kraal, amphitheatre, and visitors' centre.

In his reply to Madonsela's report on Nkandla, Zuma indicated that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko should determine if he should repay any of the money.

Since then, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has publicly criticised her and suggested she was working with Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters.


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