Parliament – President Jacob Zuma has given Public Protector Thuli Madonsela an instruction not to release her report into state capture this week until he has questioned his ministers about the issue.
Zuma asked Madonsela to assure him by the end of business on Tuesday that she would not complete her investigation into the allegations until he has been allowed to question other witnesses in the probe.
Monday’s botched meeting between the two, when Zuma stood her up, was a follow-up to Thursday’s meeting when he pushed for Madonsela to hand over the investigation to her successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Zuma is on a two-day state visit to Kenya.He denied that he had accused Madonsela of being in a rush to complete her investigation into state capture. Zuma accused Madonsela of flouting the founding act of her office by refusing to grant him access to witnesses, who were mostly his ministers, and documents at issue in the investigation she was seeking to complete before her term ends this week.
The president wants to interrogate his ministers and former ANC leaders who gave evidence against him to Madonsela.
He has been accused of being improperly influenced by the Gupta family in the appointment of his cabinet. He and the Guptas have denied the allegations of state capture.
Madonsela’s spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said the public protector was disappointed that Zuma failed to show up for the meeting, despite being afforded a proper opportunity to tender his evidence since March.
“His lawyer raised a request to question witnesses for the first time on Thursday when he was asking for a deferment of the investigation. It is of concern to the public protector that the president has on two occasions undertaken to answer questions, and when the time arose, he changed his mind,” Masibi said.
Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said Madonsela had until Tuesday to give the president some of the information he required before she released her report.
He wanted to get all the records, information and evidence of all the witnesses.
“The Presidency has therefore requested an undertaking by the public protector on or before close of business (today) that her office will not conclude the investigation and issue any report until all the evidence received by the public protector, insofar as it implicates the president or calls upon him to tender an explanation, is made available to him,” said Ngqulunga.
In addition, Zuma also wants to present his own evidence.
Ngqulunga said that at Thursday’s meeting with Madonsela it had been explained that the president’s diary was planned well in advance and he needed time to attend to some of the issues raised.
At Thursday’s meeting, Zuma’s legal advisers kept pushing for Mkhwebane to take over the investigations into state capture.
On Monday, Madonsela was unhappy that Zuma had stood her up despite clear communication last week that the meeting would take place.
Masibi said Zuma had also failed to keep his word about making an affidavit on state capture. She added Zuma did not provide any reasons for not showing up at the meeting.
When Madonsela contacted Zuma’s office, she was told that his legal adviser was going to contact her, said Masibi.
“The public protector is not happy that promises are not kept. She has been told that the letter is on its way, but nothing has happened,” she said.
Masibi added that Madonsela “genuinely believes it is in the interests of the president to account for what he knows regarding the allegations”.
Madonsela has confirmed interviewing several senior people, including Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas, former government spokesperson Themba Maseko and ex-ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.