The presidency has distanced President Jacob Zuma from a furore between former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her predecessor Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the docking of Madonsela’s pension to settle the bill for an official car which was crashed by Madonsela’s son.
Madonsela told eNCA on Friday that while she did not have evidence, she had a feeling that she was being punished for finding negatively against Zuma in the Nkandla saga.
In a statement, the presidency said it was outraged by Madonsela’s utterances.
“The President does not play any role when it comes to salary and conditions of service of the Public Protector. It is unfortunate that Advocate Madonsela decided to use the President’s name in matters which do not involve him.
“The abuse of the name of the President in such a matter is preposterous and disappointing,” read the statement.
It emerged during the week that R470 000 was deducted from Madonsela’s gratuity; she claims this was done without due process.
‘I am being punished’
The usually phlegmatic Madonsela dragged Zuma into her war of words with Mkhwebane when she told eNCA during a telephonic interview on Friday that she believes she was being targeted for her findings against Zuma in the Nkandla saga.
“I don’t know,” she said when asked whether she thought there was an agenda behind her disagreements with Mkhwebane, “but the manner in which the car issue is being handled; I have a perception that there are agendas involved”.
“I do get the feeling that I am being punished for the fact that President Zuma got to pay for the benefit he received; I didn’t receive a benefit,” added Madonsela.
Madonsela said she was linking this because some of the trolls that follow her on Twitter are linked to The New Age and every time that newspaper starts something, they tell her to #PayBackTheMoney.
“I can’t be paying back the money that I never took. Pay back the money comes from the fact that President Zuma was made to pay back the money he benefited from,” she said.
Hounded by “extra forces”
Madonsela said the manner in which the matter of the car was pursued “so ruthlessly and so resolutely does give rise to my suspicion that there are extra forces involved in this”.
Madonsela wouldn’t name the “extra forces” only saying: “I have indicated that I am being made to pay back for what I did to President Zuma or what those forces think I did to President Zuma.
"I think we might have to have an inquiry to look into the whole process and what’s going on here.”
Madonsela said while her son was responsible for the car adding that she had initially offered to pay from her pension for the car, no determination had been made on the cost of fixing it.
“I have no evidence but I suspect that either President Zuma or people linked to him are behind what’s happening at the Public Protector’s office,” she said.
Again citing a lack of evidence, Madonsela added that she also suspects the State Security Agency to be behind “some of the things that happened in (her) office before the Public Protector was appointed and what has happened since then”.
Madonsela questions nomination of public figures
Madonsela also told eNCA that on the day the presidency announced Mkhwebane’s appointment; the Public Protector’s office received a report that Mkhwebane had been directly nominated by Zuma to the parliamentary committee that recruited the new Public Protector.
“Was the present Public Protector nominated by Zuma? I don’t know. Who nominated her? A Sunday newspaper said she was nominated by a staffer in the presidency.
“I would be interested in the history of nomination of figures for public office. How many of them were nominated by staff members in the presidency? It’s a strange coincidence,” said Madonsela.