7/6/2011. Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela addresses the media about the reports that she is to be arrested. Picture : Masi Losi

Pretoria - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Monday lamented what she called “unprecedented vitriolic attacks” on her office.

“We also should not underestimate the importance of peace and stability to development and the importance of good governance, include accountability integrity and responsiveness to peace and stability,” Madonsela told reporters in Pretoria.

“It is also worth considering, as the NDP (National Development Plan) does, that this office and other integrity institutions have enormous potential to play a meaning role in curbing the loss of public funds that are dearly needed for the delivery of basic services particularly those promised by the Constitution.”

She said an independent Public Protector office was critical to a credible democracy.

“I appeal that we stop personalising matters and uphold the Constitution as we partner in helping the people of South Africa exert accountability in the exercise of public power and control over public resources. This is important if government is to play a central role in driving delivery on the constitutional promise of an inclusive South Africa,” said Madonsela.

She told reporters that her office has been the target of unprecedented, spiteful attacks since she released her report on state expenditure on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.

She said in the 20 years of her office’s existence, the criticism following the release of her report “Secure in Comfort” report was unprecedented. The critics, “including spokespersons of the governing party in and outside Parliament” had launched tirades without looking at the specifics of her report, said Madonsela.

“I have wondered what (former) president Nelson Mandela would have made of at this bizarre turn of events,” said Madonsela.

“Having been unable to hold a formal meeting with his excellency President Zuma, I’ve also been wondering what he is making of these vicious attacks.”

In March last year, the Public Protector found that Zuma had unduly benefited from security upgrades with a price tag of R246 million to his private home in Nkandla, and recommended he pay back a portion of the public funds used for the project.

The press briefing comes a day after the Sunday press reported that Zuma and Madonsela had exchanged letters on the subject of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s own report on the Nkandla controversy in which he held that the president was not liable to pay back a cent, because all luxuries added to his home as part of the project served a critical security purpose.