Pretoria - The Nkandla report is expected to be released in mid-January and not March as the ANC claims, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.
She dismissed claims that she planned to release her report into security upgrades of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in March with hopes of influencing next year's general elections.
"I never said the report would be released in March next year," she told reporters in Pretoria.
"I said I was trying to have the report released by the end of the year, but the likelihood is that it will be released in January 2014."
Madonsela said statements by her office consistently said the report would be released at the latest by mid-January.
African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday demanded the speedy release of the final report pertaining to the upgrades of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead.
Mantashe said releasing the report late could be seen as a delaying tactic and a political ploy to create negativity around the image and the integrity of Zuma and the ANC.
Madonsela said that as protector she had no role in politics and harboured no intentions of channelling voters in certain directions at next year's polls.
She said the right to choose who governed the country was a fundamental part of the Constitution and something she would not tamper with.
"It is not for the Public Protector to advise or influence the exercise of the people of South Africa's rights to choose political parties they would like to govern them.
"I am certain that this is a right the people of South Africa are fully aware of and I believe it is a right they would guard jealously against any interference. I have no intention or interest to interfere with this right and have never done so."
Madonsela said she would ask for a meeting with the ANC. An earlier meeting scheduled with the party was postponed.
Had the two sides met, misinformed statements made by the party would have been avoided, Madonsela said.
She defended herself against claims that her office leaked the provisional Nkandla report.
"The article itself said two senior officials from the cluster of security ministers had informed the author I had cleared the president."
Madonsela was referring to a recent news report.
She explained there were two versions of the report in the media's possession.
"What are the chances that I have two versions of the report? Five provisional reports were handed to the ministers 1/8electronically 3/8 and one was given a password to share with others. It was also given to a judge on a confidential basis.
"The report was also handed to court. It was the ministers who said they had given the report to a team of experts," Madonsela said.
The report deals with her investigation into the R206 million security upgrade at Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
She said it did not make sense for her to leak the report as she would not benefit from this.
Madonsela explained that her office had the report since March, but nothing was leaked.
"From where I'm sitting, I have no reason to suspect the leak is from my office. What do we benefit from leaking it to you (media)? It doesn't make sense to me."
She said the leak would not jeopardise the integrity of her final report as its integrity depended on if another, reasonable, public protector would come to the same conclusion, and whether the facts would be the same.
"The process has just caused what we call case hardening. This means the terrain has become poisoned."
She said as a precautionary measure to limit leaks in future, affected parties would not be given the entire provisional report, but rather only the portions that involved them.
“From now on, we will not be giving affected and interested parties provisional reports. We will give snippets of potential adverse findings against them, giving them an opportunity to challenge them and provide evidence,” she said.