HIGHER Education Minister Blade Nzimande has never responded to a request by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to detail why he believed her investigations were carried out selectively.
Appearing before Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development, Ms Madonsela said the Public Protector’s Act and the constitution allowed for her to be removed from office if it was proved that she was acting in a manner that could be seen to be politically motivated, not objective, or without integrity.
After presenting her annual report, the MPs questioned her on several instances where, they said, there were perceptions where she could be accused of behaving selectively or with some bias.
In April Mr Nzimande accused Ms Madonsela of being selective in her investigations asking why should one investigation into the South African Broadcasting Corporation take a long time, while the other against the South African Police Service was concluded within weeks.
"I have asked the honourable minister to supply details of selectivity in our investigations. And he has not yet done that," she said.
Ms Madonsela was also asked about her recent report into the Limpopo tenders awarded to On-Point construction company from which she said expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema benefitted.
ANC MP John Jeffrey asked Ms Madonsela about Mr Malema’s allegations that he had not had a chance to respond to her findings and had been tried in absentia.
She said that Mr Malema had chosen not to be interviewed by her or her staff and insisted that the law allowed the public prosecutor discretion on how to inform people that findings were to be made against them. This could either be by letter or by allowing them sight of the draft report.
Mr Jeffrey questioned Ms Madonsela about her speaking at a Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) rally on Women’s Day and accused her of being naïve in choosing to do so.
She said her appearance there was because that rally was primarily about human rights, although she acknowledged that in hindsight it was controversial, but said she would have made the same decision to attend any other political party’s rally if it primarily was about human rights.
During her presentation to the committee, Ms Madonsela said the public protector needed about R284m extra over the next four years in order for it to cope with its expanding case load and to ensure that investigations were completed as quickly as possible.
She said her office had received 20,000 complaints in the year ended March and this meant her investigators handled an average 100 cases each.
This to similar to the average case load carried by the South African Police Service detectives, according to a statement made Johann Burger of the Institute of Security Studies last month.
Ms Madonsela said most cases were resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes, but that the average for closure was between two and three months rather than the international norm of one month.