The DA wants cabinet members to come clean on allegations that they interfered in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla residence.
The DA was reacting to a Sunday Times report that some ministers summoned Madonsela to a meeting in an attempt to persuade her to drop investigations into the government’s R200 million splurge on Nkandla.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi rejected the reports on Sunday and also hit back.
Nxesi, whose department is at the centre of the Nkandla scandal, said not once did Madonsela’s office allude to “so-called attempts to dissuade her from doing her constitutional duties”.
However, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said allegations that some members of the executive had tried to persuade Madonsela to walk away from the probe raised “serious concerns about the lengths that President Jacob Zuma and his ministers will go to hide the truth about the scandal”, Mazibuko said.
“Chapter 9 institutions such as the public protector’s office are meant to be protected from political interference.
“The public protector is appointed by Parliament and subject only to the constitution and the law.
“The allegation that members of the executive attempted improperly to interfere with her work is a very serious one, which deserves a full explanation,” Mazibuko said.
The allegations, if they were true, would make all ministers who participated in those meetings “complicit in the Nkandlagate scandal and its cover-up”.
“I will be posing parliamentary questions to minister Nxesi, minister (Nathi) Mthethwa, minister (Siyabonga) Cwele, minister (Nosiviwe) Mapisa-Nqakula and minister (Jeff) Radebe, to ascertain whether it is true that they attempted to strong-arm advocate Madonsela into dropping her investigation,” Mazibuko said.
“Ministers are bound by parliamentary rules which prevent them from misleading the House in this regard.”
The DA would monitor the matter closely to ensure that the public protector’s report and her recommendations were completed without “undue interference”.
Nxesi said the security cluster ministers did not try to “pressurise” Madonsela to stop her investigation.
“It should be noted that I am on record on numerous occasions that my office and the department would co-operate with the public protector. True to this undertaking, my officials and other ministers have met the public protector to discuss issues pertaining to her investigation,” said Nxesi.
Nxesi said “out of the ordinary”, he went as far as giving Madonsela the classified report into the Nkandla security project.
“This was aimed at assisting her. If these actions do not show that we are willing to co-operate with the public protector, then I do not know,” said Nxesi.
He accused certain people of having tried to play politics with the Nkandla project.
“They are oblivious that here we are dealing with the security of the president of the country,” said Nxesi.