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Zuma 'disagrees' with Madonsela's powers

The president has told Madonsela he cannot and should not give blanket acceptance to her reports.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has told Public Protector Thuli Madonsela he cannot and should not give blanket acceptance to her reports in a letter written in response to her reminder that he has failed to heed her findings on Nkandla.

Zuma said he "must respectfully disagree" with Madonsela's view that her reports and recommendations can only be reviewed by a court of law, and not by ministers or Cabinet.

The president argued that "the role of the public protector is akin to that of an ombudsman and quite distinct from that of the judge."

He also said reports emanating from a public protector process are not judgments to be followed under pain of a contempt order, but rather, useful tools in assisting democracy.

Towards the end of last month, 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 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.

MADONSELA PROBING CIA ALLEGATIONS

Madonsela has confirmed her office is trying to get to the bottom of claims she is a CIA spy.

At the weekend, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe accused Madonsela of being a CIA spy deployed to destabilise the African National Congress ANC and ultimately the country.

The Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association chair 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 has since apologised for his statements and said they were misinterpreted.

Madonsela said they are looking into the matter.

"We are still evaluating the apologies by the deputy minister and the explanation he has given regarding what he said."

Earlier this week, 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.

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