Corruption Watch calls for Maphatsoe's head

Kebby Maphatsoe has come under criticism for saying the public protector is a CIA spy.

Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association chair Kebby Maphatsoe speaks at a news conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, 3 March 2011. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Corruption Watch says President Jacob Zuma must fire Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe over his comments that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

At the weekend, the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) chair accused Madonsela of being a CIA spy deployed to destabilise the African National Congress (ANC) and ultimately the country.

Maphatsoe was addressing hundreds of people at the unveiling of a tombstone for former Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant Linda Jabane in Soweto.

The American government has called the claims senseless and offensive.

Maphatsoe apologised for his statements last night despite saying in Parliament yesterday that he had been misquoted and denying making the original claim.

The ANC has welcomed the apology.

Corruption Watch director David Lewis says Zuma must take the matter further.

"The only way for them to distance themselves from his comments is to remove him from Cabinet otherwise they will be seen to be condoning his statements."

The group argued the attack on Madonsela came after people high up in the ANC had already attacked her, meaning lower ranking officials thought it was simply open season on the public protector.

Lewis says she's being attacked for just one reason.

"She does her job without fear and favour which is precisely what she's supposed to do."

But Maphatsoe has been a strong support of the president for many years making it unlikely that he will lose his job.

Yesterday, Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament David Maynier called Maphatsoe an idiot for his comments about Madonsela.

Maynier was ordered to leave the National Assembly when he refused to withdraw his comment.

The allegation by Maphatsoe was made in the wake of Madonsela's letter to Zuma last month in which she demanded answers as to when he would respond to her Nkandla report.

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