You must learn to wait, writes Thami ka Plaatjie in an open letter to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Dear Advocate Madonsela
Populists I have known aplenty but you remain unique in my experience. I have lauded your work and your efforts to hold our nation to account but I dare say my views have dramatically changed over your recent Nkandla conduct.
I missed a chance encounter with you when you summoned the board of the SABC to your pious office.
I had earlier submitted my resignation from the board, thus relinquishing all my attended obligations to that institution and thus could not make myself available for your encounter.
I also missed another encounter that I should have had with you when you made a failed attempt to summon the Freedom Park Council to appear before you.
The Freedom Park Council resolved to resist what we regarded as your rampant and flagrant misuse and abuse of power, thus prompting withdrawal from your office.
You had issued a missive demanding that the council appear before you and the grounds of your request were found to be wanting.
We wrote to you and raised serious concerns with your proclivity to cross the line and impugn the dignity and rights of other persons and institutions of the state.
There are many instances where your work is viewed with awe and admiration.
There are many instances where you come across as the voice of reason and the persistent guardian of the constitution of our nation and all its obligations.
But alas, there are equally many and countless instances and examples where you tend to be over-zealous and where your actions can easily be construed as those of a vested party.
In fact, you play too much to the gallery and have thus diminished the sanctity of that office you hold.
By virtue of the powers vested in you, you are enjoined by the Public Protector Act to make recommendation and suggest remedial action.
Of late you are misreading this role and instead issue what can be called injunctions, directives and rulings.
Your office is not that of a judge or court of law.
You have, of late, become an activist of some sort going around ordering people around as though they are at your behest.
In fact you act like a spoilt brat who cries when her toys are thrown on the floor.
The praises the liberals have heaped on you have made a serious dent in what remains of your credibility.
You are held up as a moral voice by people like FW de Klerk, whose hands are dripping with the blood of Africans.
The chorus of support that was lined up on the front page of Rapport needs no further mention since most of their views are predictable.
To be idolised, venerated and held aloft as the best example of the native is an age-old strategy liberals have used to flutter those among ourselves who crave such emoluments.
I shudder to think that you may be of the view that you are the best thing that has happened to South Africa after Nelson Mandela.
Your idolatry of the constitution as though you wrote it alone panders to self-righteousness and cheap demagogy.
Long after you have left the Office of the Public Protector our people and the institutions they created will thrive.
Your right to hold us to account is protected but your activism is frowned upon.
You conducted your investigation on the Nkandla matter and submitted your report.
The report is now in the hands of Parliament and an ad-hoc committee will deal with it and recommend to Parliament.
This is simple procedure which you as an advocate should comprehend.
You are now seeking to bamboozle Parliament and this very act is macabre to say the least.
Why are you so impatient with the processes of Parliament whereas you had ample time to investigate and recommend.
You impugn that the president veers away from accountability and responsibility in relation to the Nkandla matter and thus you appoint yourself as the conscience of the nation.
The victories you have attained in recent times have surely warped your mind.
The fact that you released your report on Nkandla just before the election was also indicative of the extent to which you have become political.
You seem desperate to attain instant victories that will bolster your office and persona rather than finding an acceptable solution.
I might not be remiss to infer that exasperation seems to cloud your mind and judgement.
Your office’s rights and obligations as enshrined in the constitution must be respected and upheld by all democrats and as such the rights of other structures must be respected, to whit, Parliament.
It was for this very reason that you frequently enunciate that your office is under attack whereas you are the first person to attack the sanctity of other offices.
Any public attacks and vitriol from the ANC and cde Gwede Mantashe is not intended or aimed at the office that you hold save that it is intended and targeted at your actions.
Your activist role stops short of being that of an opposition party.
Your abrasive posture and malevolent attitude that seem to invite the president to a street brawl which is too often characterised by timely leaks for which you blame all and sundry save yourself is unfortunate.
You are gregarious in your demand for the remedial action which you have recommended and are impatient to allow other organs of state to interface with your recommendations.
Your office is not in any way above others nor is it in any manner and form special.
You seem to take public flutter as though it is a legislative enabler.
The subtext of your letter to the president that was leaked to the Sunday Times was choreographed to embarrass the president and create an environment that would cast serious doubts on his leadership, thus giving vent to the chorus of noises from the opposition, who lost the election, to seek to create ungovernability.
The fact that your letter to the President of the Republic Jacob Zuma was penned after the EFF’s political hooliganism is also curious, to say the least.
You seem to be giving impetus to their political pranks and are colluding in deepening confusion.
One is tempted to view your actions as more political than otherwise. You seem hell-bent in orchestrating an environment that will expedite regime change.
You want to attain for the opposition what they dismally failed to win at the polls.
To attain your designs you gerrymander around facts and hide behind your office. The rag-tag political juveniles and political sycophants hold out a candle of honour in your name.
Your actions bespeak a troubled mind and a restless soul seeking redemption from itself.
It will be curious to find out how many other cases were brought to your office and were not attended to because inter alia they are not worth the sensational media headlines.
Issues affecting miners and the abuse they suffer from mining houses for instance.
Your salacious conduct bears the hallmarks of one who has been sold the idea that this government is inherently corrupt and as such must be treated with contempt and dealt with harshly.
You are increasingly becoming a danger to yourself and to your esteemed office.
I trust that you will find this letter candid.
The institution that you lead is a conscious outcome of the efforts of the ANC and the people of the country and it is not the gift you yourself have invented.
Your recommendations for remedial action are receiving attention and you are advised to learn to wait.
The Sunday Independent offered advocate Thuli Madonsela a right to reply.
This is all she wanted to say to Ka Plaatjie.
“I am unable to engage Mr Plaatjie in a rational discourse because his letter is full of insults and misinformation. My heart goes out to him.
“He seems sad and angry. I get a sense that I have nothing to do with his pain though. If there is anything I could do to help him, I would be happy to.”
On Ka Plaatjie’s allegation that the public protector was allegedly focusing on the big cases at the expense of complaints lodged by ordinary people, Madonsela shared a text message she received from a complainant still waiting for remedial action three years after she released her report:
“Dear Advocate Madonsela:
Greetings On behalf of the Vhembe Concerned Pensioners' Group, I wish to convey our message of support during these trying times for your office and yourself.
“As a real makhadzi of the nation, you have handled the unfortunate and unwarranted political attack with dignity, humility, integrity, responsibility and tenacity. The unwarranted but predictable political attack stems from the fact that your leaked letter to the president touched a sensitive political nerve; as viewed by those who want to demonise your office and your person.
“The unwarranted attack can only make your office and yourself stronger in defending our young constitutional democracy. Be assured that millions of South Africans of goodwill are fully behind you. May the good Creator guide and protect you all the time.”