ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was gracious as he bade farewell to outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela last night, saying the party had learnt a lot from her.
Speaking at Madonsela’s farewell dinner at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Mantashe said: “I agree with premier David Makhura when he said you saved us from ourselves. You did and we never acknowledged that. You leave the ANC wiser as you go.”
Mantashe added that “without the ANC, your work would not have been as exciting”.
He also said that it was unfortunate that Madonsela was already having a farewell dinner without having released a certain report. Madonsela is yet to complete her highly anticipated report on state capture.
“This thing of farewell without the report is a bit unfair. We are bidding you farewell without the final push,” said Mantashe.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor defied the ANC-led investigations into state capture by taking her dossier – detailing allegations of the existence of a corrupt relationship between the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma – directly to the Hawks.
The specialised crime-fighting unit was investigating a corruption-related case against the brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh (also known as Tony) Gupta.
Mentor’s dossier details “corrupt” partnerships between companies owned by the Guptas, who are friends of president Jacob Zuma, and state-owned enterprises.
This week Madonsela interviewed one of the Gupta brothers and was expected to interview Zuma today.
Ajay Gupta has denied that his family’s companies lobbied government or that they had “captured the state”, but admitted to having regular visits with MPs.
Makhura said Madonsela, who delivered critical rulings against the government, was not the enemy.
“Thank you for saving us from ourselves. We need more people who have your courage.”
Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga said Madonsela’s greatest legacy was not the Nkandla ruling, but “empowering the disempowered”.
In her speech, Madonsela thanked the president for appointing her and South Africans for supporting her.
She also thanked her detractors, saying: “Even those who accused us of a lot of things, we say thank you because when people challenge you, you learn something.”
She asked the country not to expect that the new Public Protector should be like her.
“She must take this office to the next level,” Madonsela said.
Today, Zuma announced the appointment of a Advocate Busisiwe Joyce Mkhwebane as the new Public Protector for a period of seven years.
The president thanked Madonsela for her services and wished Advocate Mkhwebane all the best in her new position.