Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has defended her decision to address a DA Women’s Day event, after coming under fresh fire from the SA Communist Party.
The SACP blasted Madonsela on Sunday for compromising the “independence, impartiality and dignity of [her] office as required by law”.
On Friday, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga fired the first salvo, accusing Madonsela of “rubbing shoulders with DA leaders” and addressing “party delegates” at the Port Elizabeth event.
He said her decision to attend was ill-considered as it opened her office to perceptions of political bias.
Motshekga said this would justify people questioning Madonsela’s impartiality in handling complaints by the opposition party.
SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said the protector’s failure to give a full explanation would reinforce the party’s “strongly held suspicion” that Madonsela was “a useful hand of” and “willingly being held hostage by” the “anti-majoritarian liberal offensive against government” and the tripartite alliance.
Commenting on Sunday, Madonsela challenged the ANC and the SACP to provide her with a list of things the DA had brought to her office to investigate and similar lists for the ANC and SACP so “the people of SA can judge” whether she had been selective in what she investigated.
Motshekga questioned why Madonsela attended a DA event rather than the official national Women’s Day celebrations in Pretoria.
Madonsela said speaking at the DA event was part of her office’s programme of meeting the public for this year. The programme included “accommodating special interest groups”.
The SACP said this was an attempt to “pull wool” over the public’s eyes.
Maleka said the DA event had nothing to do with service delivery issues.
Madonsela said the event had not been a “political meeting” but a “workshop” for women.
“The only problem is [delegates] were wearing Dawn T-shirts,” Madonsela said, referring to the acronym for the DA Women’s Network.
“We would have preferred it to be different, but we couldn’t dictate.”
Workshop delegates gave Madonsela documents supporting complaints about maladministration and gender violence.
DA Women’s Network provincial chairwoman Celeste Barker said: “Madonsela informed delegates that… her office has 166 000 reports of sexual offences against women and that child-headed households, transactional sex and defective RDP houses are national issues in which the majority of affected parties are women.”
Madonsela’s spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi said nothing prevented other political parties from inviting the protector to events – as the ANC had done for its centenary celebrations, which she had attended.