Public Protector ‘vindicated’ by ConCourt ruling on Nkandla

The Constitutional Court found that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution in dealing with Nkandla.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela briefs the media on the outcome of the Nkandla matter in the Con Court. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was accused by some African National Congress (ANC) Members of Parliament (MPs) in Parliament of misleading the country with her report on the Nkandla spending debacle, but she is now standing tall after her office's powers were affirmed by the highest court in the land.

Madonsela found the president and his family unduly benefited from the non-security features, which formed part of the R246 million project to upgrade his private home in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

When she released her findings in March 2014, she ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back a reasonable portion of the money that was spent on the refurbishments and that National Treasury and South African Police Services (Saps) should help him determine the amount.

Her report was criticised by the governing party, including senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, when the national legislature dealt with the matter last year.

"It is not only the Public Protester's report that misled the nation and the world but the media, with due respect. They do very important work but you see in informing the public, there's an important duty to ensure that we don't [misinform]."

In a unanimous judgment yesterday, the Constitutional Court found that not only the President, but also Parliament, had failed to uphold and defend the Constitution in dealing with the issue.

Madonsela's report was criticised by members of the governing party, including senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, when the national legislature dealt with the matter last year.

Last August, the ANC used its superior numbers in the National Assembly to rubber stamp a report absolving Zuma of financial liability.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh, who was part of the Parliamentary committee that dealt with the matter, said this issue has come back to haunt the ANC.

"We can't understand the dogmatic attitude of some of the senior members of the ANC on that committee, they just failed to understand simple logic and simple reasoning."

Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said the ANC misused its majority.

"The ANC has been weakened, but Parliament as an institution has been strengthened because the sound arguments that we've been putting on the table have been proven."

Meanwhile, Parliament say it's studying the judgment.

At the same time, Madonsela said she now wants to engage with government to ensure better relations going forward, saying it's in the best interests of the country.

Madonsela said she and her deputy will start meeting government executives across the country.

"We'd like a meeting with Cabinet. We'd like a meeting with Parliament, which is an olive branch really, saying we've all learned our lessons and can we put this behind us and we can we put the country first. Can we put the Constitution first and can we put peace first? Because if formal institutions aren't working, none of us are going to experience peace.