Tebogo Monama, Piet Rampedi and Sapa
Johannesburg - The ANC continued its offensive against Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Wednesday, hammering her for “leaks” of reports from her office, which it said undermined her office and also harmed those being investigated.
But she hit back, saying she was the victim of a campaign to “delegitimise” her office, led by senior leaders of the ANC-led tripartite alliance.
However, she was willing to meet the ANC as the party was not able to be part of a session she had with stakeholders earlier this year.
She said she would not pursue criminal charges against those who leaked or published her provisional Nkandla report on the R206 million worth of security upgrades of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, even though it was unlawful to do so.
She had no capacity and resources to pursue the culprits because her hands were full already, she told a media briefing.
“If I were to lay criminal charges, I would have to take the entire (media) industry to court. That would mean my entire life…,” Madonsela said.
She added that she had decided “to stop the opportunity for leakages”.
She singled out ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, his deputy, Jessie Duarte, and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande as the ringleaders of a campaign to “delegitimise” her office. She stopped short of labelling them liars.
Madonsela denied Mantashe’s claims that she had leaked the controversial report. She also rejected the ANC’s claim that she deliberately sat on a complete Nkandla report with a view to releasing it on the eve of next year’s general elections.
Ministers in the security cluster took Madonsela to court last month over the release of the provisional report. They said some aspects in the report revealed sensitive security issues around Zuma.
Madonsela will share the report with security experts provided by the ministers to ensure there are no security breaches.
Madonsela said she and her staff had no reason to leak reports, because that would only erode her office’s credibility.
“I don’t know who leaked it. It’s only the media houses who would know who leaked it. I have no reason to suspect that the leak was from my office.”
She shared Mantashe’s view that provisional reports should not be shared with the public as that was prejudicial, and that final reports should be released as speedily as possible.
She said her office had not yet decided whether Zuma would receive the full provisional report or snippets. “We have made a decision that no one will get the provisional report… to minimise leaks.”
However, Mantashe had made a series of “incorrect statements” on Tuesday by giving “purported” reasons for why that happened.
“Firstly, I have never said I would release my report by March next year,” Madonsela said. The truth is I have never shared the provisional report with the affected and interested parties. The draft report was sent to the five security clusters.”
Madonsela said it was unclear why Mantashe had linked her to the elections. “Did he lie? I wouldn’t say so… I wouldn’t say it was untruths. I would say the information wasn’t correct. The statement was untrue, but I wouldn’t label them in any way,” she added.
Madonsela said three years after Nzimande accused her of “jumping when the DA asks me to”, she had yet to get the evidence she asked for.
“It’s part of a campaign to deligitimise my office.”
On Wednesday, ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said leaks of incomplete reports from her office happened regularly and prejudiced its work. “These leaks have the effect of not only undermining and prejudicing the integrity and the work of the public protector’s office, but also of harming the image and the standing of those who are being investigated,” he said.
Mthembu recalled three other incomplete reports that had been leaked recently.