President wants to interview state capture witnesses, Madonsela told
President Jacob Zuma has given public protector Thuli Madonsela until the end of today to indicate that she will not continue her probe into state capture until she allows him to question key witnesses.
Madonsela was expected to have a second meeting with Zuma yesterday after he apparently failed to answer questions she had put to him on Thursday as part of her investigation.
After the protracted meeting, his legal team had agreed that a list of questions would be sent to Zuma for his response.
Madonsela’s seven-year term ends on Saturday, but she had previously said she would draw up a preliminary report by Friday on alleged state capture.
Yesterday, the Presidency issued a statement saying that Zuma had written to the public protector requesting that he, or his legal team, be allowed to question other witnesses in the probe.
“President Zuma was given two days before the meeting that took place on Thursday to prepare and give evidence on a whole range of matters which exceeded the ambit of the stated request for the meeting,” the Presidency said.
“He is thus of the view that this short notice did not take into account the provisions of Section 7(9) of the Public Protector Act, which states that the implicated person [the president in this case] or his legal representative is entitled to question other witnesses, determined by the public protector, who have appeared before the public protector.”
The president had further asked Madonsela to halt her investigation and not issue a report pending his request.
Such a report should not be issued 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;
- The president is afforded an opportunity to question the witnesses who have tendered such evidence;
- The president has been afforded a proper opportunity to tender his evidence as discussed above.
The DA said it had noted with deep concern Zuma’s latest ploy to add unnecessary delays to the probe.
“President Zuma has the propensity to employ delaying tactics when he is called to account for his indiscretions‚ whether they relate to his 783 counts of corruption‚ the Nkandla saga or answering questions in the National Assembly‚ to name a few recent examples‚” the party said.
“This last-ditch attempt to stall the state capture probe points to a panicked man whose chickens have finally come home to roost …
“The president’s latest stunt comes after last week’s meeting with the public protector where he stated‚ according to a statement‚ that ‘there was no reason for the investigation to be prioritised’.
“It is clear that President Zuma has a lot to hide and is fast running out of options,” the DA said.
“We cannot allow for the president to tacitly or explicitly undermine the work of the public protector to evade accountability.”
Attempts to get comment from public protector spokesman Oupa Segalwe were not successful yesterday.