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Action must be taken to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Public Protector
9 September 2014

Pretoria, South Africa - The Governance, Crime and Justice division of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) notes with increasing concern the recent attacks on South Africa’s Office of the Public Protector and the aspersions cast on Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s person and integrity.

‘We appear to have reached a new low in public discourse this past weekend when Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe accused Advocate Madonsela of being a CIA agent’ said Judith February, senior researcher in the Governance, Crime and Justice division of the ISS.

Maphatsoe’s comments reflect poorly on government as a whole and the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Veterans’ Association of which he is the chairperson.

According to February, ‘Maphatsoe’s comments are part of a worrying growing trend which has seen politicians attack the Public Protector when they are dissatisfied with recommendations she has made after certain investigations’.

The comments reflect a lack of understanding of the role of Chapter 9 institutions which were designed specifically to promote, protect and defend South Africa’s Constitution. Furthermore, as pointed out by the Public Protector, the comments are in breach of sections 9 and 11 of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, which makes it a criminal offence to insult the Public Protector.

Maphatsoe swore an oath to uphold the Constitution when he was appointed deputy minister. ‘His comments suggest that he either fails to understand the oath or does not feel beholden to it’ said Gareth Newham, head of the Governance, Crime and Justice division at the ISS.

President Jacob Zuma should take appropriate action given that Maphatsoe is a deputy minister in the cabinet. The same goes for the ANC since Maphatsoe is a senior member of the party. ‘Failure to do so’ noted February, ‘suggests that they fully support his statements, which in itself reflects a real threat to the South Africa’s constitutional democracy’.

Through its research, policy advice and training, the ISS aims to strengthen good governance and accountability in Africa. The Office of the Public Protector is widely recognised as an essential institution for promoting transparency and accountability in South Africa.

For more information contact:

Judith February, +27 83 453 9817, jfebruary@issafrica.org

About the Institute for Security Studies
The ISS is an African organisation that aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.
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