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ANC slams 'unethical leak' of Madonsela letter

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa says the letter to Jacob Zuma should never have been made public.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) says it is unethical that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's letter to President Jacob Zuma was leaked to the media.

Madonsela sent president Zuma a strongly-worded seven-page letter demanding to know when he will pay back some of the money spent on upgrades at his private Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal and requested his response within 14 days.

The public protector said Zuma's refusal to adhere to her recommendations could breed a culture of impunity in the state.

The Nkandla upgrades came under heavy criticism in a report by Madonsela in March. Madonsela's report said Zuma had "benefited unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

The tripartite alliance has accused Madonsela of undermining Parliament and says it is not up to her to decide if the president's response is sufficient.

Zuma responded to the interministerial task team and the Special Investigating Unit's reports on the security upgrades, but did not address a call from Madonsela to return some of the money.

The ANC's Zizi Kodwa says the letter to the president should never have been made public.

"The report that we read about yesterday is private correspondence between her office and the office of the president. That correspondence was leaked to the media. We think that on its own is ethically wrong."

The president was ushered out of the National Assembly last week amid chants of 'pay back the money' by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose leader Julius Malema demanded that Zuma commit to a date.

ZUMA 'WELL PROTECTED'

As the ANC has the majority in Parliament, Zuma would appear to be well protected.

However, other political parties may decide to go court on public interest grounds and get a finding that that the president is behaving as if he is above the law.

That could damage Zuma and the ANC and lead to questions about whether he is fulfilling his oath to uphold the Constitution.