Durban - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has incurred the wrath of the ANC after announcing that her final report on security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s home will be announced on February 9.

Speaking at the KwaZulu-Natal ANC election rally at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg the ruling party’s secretary-general Gwede Mantashe accused Madonsela and her office of a hidden agenda.

Mantashe was in the province to launch its provincial manifesto that coincided with the party’s celebrations of 102nd birthday.

His keynote address, given in the searing Midlands heat, was almost a regurgitation of Zuma’s January 8 statement in Mbombela last week.

The 12 000 seater stadium was filled to capacity with ANC provincial spokesman Senzo Mkhize estimating the attendance to be 100 000.

“We had initially reserved the space of 70 000 as per the number of T-shirts we issued, but they ran out and the overflow on the grass could not take more and we ended up sitting people in the car park,” he said.

Mantashe questioned the rationale behind the delay, saying it was clear the release was made to coincide with Zuma’s State of the Nation address.

Zuma is scheduled to deliver his state of the nation address on February 13, just four days after the release of the report.

Madonsela was poised to deliver her final report between January 24 and 28.

“What is the delay? Can’t she release it now and let it be debated now? So that we debate the facts and find out how that R206 million was reached. Why coincide it with the State of the Nation address? Is this aimed at disturbing it?” asked Mantashe.

Mantashe said this was also delaying the programmes of the ANC prior to the election.

He said organs of state like the Special Investigative Unit and the office of the Public Protector are led with the support of the ANC.

“And we don’t know why there are leaks thereof,” he said in the apparent belief that the report might be leaked close to its release date.

Ironically, it was at the same stadium exactly 10 years ago that President Thabo Mbeki “suffered a heatstroke” after addressing the manifesto, resulting in him being admitted to hospital for a short stay.

Madonsela said the delay occurred after the assessment of the nature and extent of responses to the provisional report notification letters sent to affected parties .

She said this came late on Thursday after agreeing to a request by one of the parties to have their deadline for responses extended to February 8, 2014.

“Parties were initially given return dates that varied between 24 and 28 January 2014. The rest of the parties are requested to stick to the initial return dates in order to avoid further delays,”.

Madonsela said she remained alive to the public interest on the matter and the importance of having the report released expeditiously. However, she said, it was equally crucial for the process to be fair to all parties.

“We call on all stakeholders to be patient and allow the due processes to take place. It is only fair that affected and implicated parties should be given an opportunity to address me on my provisional findings before the report is made available to the public,” said Madonsela.

Sunday Independent