Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s decision to join the EFF’s bid to have President Jacob Zuma repay some of the money spent on Nkandla could dent her institution’s reputation, the office of the ANC’s chief whip said on Monday.
“There is nothing in law and in terms of court procedures that prevents the institution from aligning itself with political parties in legal matters,” spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.
“Although perceptions, just like morality, can never be sufficiently regulated under the law, they are critical to the institution’s work and public image.”
The EFF wants the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to implement Madonsela’s recommendations. The court is expected to hear the matter in February.
In her report Secure in Comfort, released in March last year, Madonsela recommended that Zuma repay a reasonable amount of the R246m spent on upgrades to his Nkandla homestead which were not related to security, like the swimming pool, cattle kraal, and amphitheatre.
Mothapo said Madonsela’s decision to “legally align herself” with a political party was ill-advised.
He claimed it made a mockery of the principles Madonsela had to uphold in the eye of the public.
Last week, the Constitutional Court ordered that Madonsela would be joined to the matter as a third respondent, and that she had to file papers on or before October 30.
She had argued that the court’s ruling in the EFF’s case would profoundly affect how her office exercised its power, as a recent high court ruling had “severely compromised” it.
Western Cape High Court Judge Ashton Schippers ruled on October 24 2014 that the public protector’s findings and recommendations were not binding and enforceable. He, however, said a definite ruling was needed on the public protector’s powers and remedial action.
Schippers said this in his ruling that SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing against him.
Madonsela said the ruling had become the prevailing law on the matter and it had “detrimentally impacted” her office.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) ruled that Madonsela’s findings could not be ignored and Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days while a disciplinary hearing into his alleged malfeasance was conducted.
This judgment against the SABC has set a precedent.
However, the Constitutional Court will have the final say on whether Madonsela’s findings are binding.