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Nkandla: ANC slams Madonsela

Thuli Madonsela appears to be on a collision course with Jacob Zuma after sending him a strong-worded letter.

FILE. The ANC has accused the Public Protector of having no faith in Parliament regarding Nkandla & showing bias. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - As the African National Congress (ANC) attacks the Public Protector accusing her of having no faith in Parliament and showing bias, Thuli Madonsela has thanked the nation for supporting her office and strengthening democracy.

Madonsela has sent President Jacob 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.

In March, the Public Protector released her report into how almost a quarter of a billion rand was spent on the upgrades.

"I am also requesting the president pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures as determined with the assistance of National Treasury."

But late on Sunday, the ANC issued a statement criticising Madonsela.

The ruling party says Zuma is not obliged to comply with the Public Protector's latest request and has questioned the timing of her letter, saying she jumped the gun and should instead have waited for a Parliamentary ad hoc committee, to raise her concerns.

ANC parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo was scathing in his criticism of Madonsela's office and says her credibility and impartiality have been brought into question.

"On Tuesday she said she is not going to get involved and on Thursday she changed her course and wrote a letter to the president. We're asking ourselves, isn't this coincidence interesting?"

The South African Communist Party (SACP)'s Alex Mashilo says the Public Protector's actions over reach the capacity of her office.

"Wittingly or unwittingly, she is playing into an anti- democratic agenda that seeks to portray the entirety of government as corrupt."

Both the ANC and SACP say the only place where questions around Nkandla can be asked is in the Parliamentary ad hoc committee, which has yet to meet following Zuma's response at the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, this morning, Madonsela posted a tweet to over 60,000 followers thanking South Africans for supporting her office.

Thank you South Africa for your steadfast belief in and support for @PublicProtector Team's effort at strengthening #constitutionaldemocracy

But the letter she has sent to the president appears to have set her on a collision course with Zuma.

It appears the president may be holding most of the aces in this fight, under the Constitution and the law it seems the Public Protector may not have the right to take him to court and can only complain to Parliament that he has not complied with her recommendations.

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.