Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was accused of presenting an “inadequate” report, and was told to go and properly prepare by the parliamentary oversight committee on justice.
She was repeatedly interrupted by chairperson Mathole Motshekga and accused of being friends with, and behaving like, the DA. She was admonished for publicly describing Western Cape Judge Ashton Schippers’ judgment on her powers as “a cut-and-paste judgment”.
Madonsela told MPs she had the answers they wanted on, among other things, a R4 million consultancy expenditure on her case load and on accusations that her office was litigating too much.
“Shortly after my appearance here, we wrote back to this committee and sent answers in writing. We have not received any responses from this committee saying the answers were inadequate,” said Madonsela, who offered to give answers at the meeting.
After the meeting, Motshekga defended the manner in which his committee treated her, saying it was nothing but “robust oversight”.
“There must be robust engagement and robust engagement is part of oversight, and when we put oversight questions, there cannot be sweetheart questions and, therefore, if the robust engagement is interpreted as attacks, that is unfortunate.
“I didn’t get a sense that any of the members of Parliament want to attack the Public Protector,” he said.
Madonsela told journalists she always felt like there was an elephant in the room when she was in Parliament lately.
“Even a child can tell there is a problem with the way we interface with Parliament in the past few sessions, and I have made it my part in trying to avoid that.”
The DA has given notice to move a motion of no confidence in Motshekga at the next sitting of the committee.
The Economic Freedom Fighters has lodged a complaint with Speaker Baleka Mbete on the conduct of ANC MPs in Wednesday’s meeting, saying it was contrary to the rules of Parliament.
It could not have been a more different justice committee. After an aggressive volley of questions from the ANC benches directed at Madonsela, HRC chair Lawrence Mushwana was submitted to gentle probing about 90 minutes later.
He told the MPs that while he had the answers to their questions, which varied from land to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) and the gender balance or lack thereof of the delegation he had brought with him, he did not have the time to answer the question.
“Having listened to all the questions that have been asked – and I believe for a lot of them we have very good answers – I am not sure that time will allow us because you are asking questions about land, gender and Paia,” said Mushwana without answering a single question.
“We have got a story we can tell, but the problem now is time and we really feel we are not doing justice to the work we are doing and would want to share with you.
“We need that time, chair, because these issues are very important and we do want to share and hear your views,” he added.
The committee obliged and Mathole Motshekga offered them an opportunity to return on Tuesday.
He said: “I think you are doing very well and the work you do can actually help to guide the whole country if only it could be known. But we are not sure that your reports are known even by us in Parliament, so that’s why we prefer to offer you time…”
Motshekga did disagree with the HRC entertaining the complaint laid against King Goodwill Zwelithini, but did not display any hostility or antagonism.
Do you think Parliament is deliberately hostile to Madonsela? If so, why?